Predictors of Recall Error in Self-Report of Age at Alcohol Use Onset.
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OBJECTIVE: The present study examined factors associated with recall error in the measurement of alcohol use onset and whether there was a tendency toward earlier or later self-reported age at alcohol use onset. METHOD: This study estimated the effect of predictors on the presence and direction of recall error for age at alcohol use onset. The sample (n = 1,044) was from an existing longitudinal alcohol prevention trial in urban Chicago. Estimates were derived from a series of logistic regression models comparing agreement between a retrospective and a prospective measure of age at alcohol use onset. RESULTS: Eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch in 6th grade, alcohol use in 6th grade, cigarette use in 12th grade, and alcohol use in 12th grade were significantly associated with recall error of age at alcohol use onset. Self-reported substance use (alcohol and tobacco) in 12th grade was also found to predict a later self-reported age at alcohol use onset when recalled. CONCLUSIONS: Those most at risk for the negative outcomes associated with early alcohol initiation are also those most likely to misreport their age at alcohol use onset.