The scope for biased recall of risk-factor exposure in case-control studies: Evidence from a cohort study of Scottish men

Metcalfe, C., Macleod, J., Davey Smith, G. and Hart, C.L. (2008) The scope for biased recall of risk-factor exposure in case-control studies: Evidence from a cohort study of Scottish men. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 36(4), pp. 442-445. (doi: 10.1177/1403494807088451)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1403494807088451

Abstract

Aims: Case-control studies are prone to recall bias, a participant's case-control status influencing their recall of exposure to risk factors. We aimed to demonstrate empirically the scope for this bias. Methods: Two thousand five hundred and fifty men without coronary heart disease at enrolment to a prospective cohort study underwent two health assessments, about 5 years apart. The association between the development of coronary heart disease in the intervening period and changes in reported stress and cigarette smoking were investigated. Results: Men admitted to hospital with coronary heart disease reported a greater increase in psychological stress (p=0.032) and greater cessation of smoking (22% vs. 10%; p=0.007) than men not admitted. Consequently, when exposure data are collected at the end rather than at the start of the follow-up period, coronary heart disease is observed to be more strongly associated with psychological stress, and more weakly associated with smoking. Conclusions: At the time when a case-control study is conducted, levels of exposure to risk factors will have been influenced by disease development. When participants are asked about their level of exposure for a previous time period, recall is likely to be influenced by present outcome and exposure status, especially when psychological states are being investigated

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hart, Dr Carole and Davey Smith, Professor George
Authors: Metcalfe, C., Macleod, J., Davey Smith, G., and Hart, C.L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Centre for Population and Health Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
Journal Name:Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
ISSN:1403-4948

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