Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 82, Supplement 3, pp iii67–iii81 | Cite as

Race/ethnicity differences in the validity of self-reported drug use: Results from a household survey

  • Michael Fendrich
  • Timothy P. Johnson
Advances in Measurement and Design in Health Disparities Research


Data were analyzed from a multistage probability household survey of over 600 adults, ages 18–40 from the city of Chicago conducted during 2001–2002. The survey employed audio computer-assisted self-interviews to obtain information about drug use. To imvestigate racelethnicity differences in reporting validity, drug test results were compared with self-reports of past month drug use for cocaine, marijuana, and a combined indicator of both substances. The main indicators of validity were self-report sensitivity and concordance. Possible theoretical models accounting for potential cultural differences in reporting validity were discussed. Survey variables reflecting these potential explanations were examined as potential mediators of racelethnicity differences in validity and as direct correlates of validity. Socioeconomic status was identified as one potential mediator. With this exception, racelethnicity differences suggesting lower levels of marijuana and cocaine concordance for African Americans as compared with Whites were sustained after controlling for potential mediators. Methodological implications for epidemiological and health disparities research are discussed.


Drug abuse Racelethnicity Survey research Validity 


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Copyright information

© Oxford University Press on behalf of the New York Academy of Medicine 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Survey Research LaboratoryCollege of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, University of IllinoisChicago
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Juvenile ResearchUniversity of IllinoisChicago

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