Self-report of drinking compared to objective markers of alcohol consumption

Jennifer L. Whitford, Sabina C. Widner, Davis Mellick, Ralph L. Elkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: The validity of self-report data is an area of continuing concern in the substance abuse treatment field. It is uncertain how well self-report of alcohol relapse corresponds with more objective indices. Methods: We compared the self-report of alcohol relapse to collateral reports and biological indices of relapse. Twelve-month post-treatment follow-up data were collected from 94 male and female alcohol dependent veterans and 93 of their respective collateral contacts. Biological indices included breathalyzer data, and the blood enzymes aspartate aminotransferase, y-glutamyltransferase, and alanine aminotransferase. Results: A collapsed factor of the more objective indices of use was moderately associated with self-report. A logistic regression analysis revealed that only collateral reports of use predicted the self-report of alcohol relapse. The specificity of collateral report was 82.4 and the sensitivity was 71.9. Conclusions: Collateral informants serve an important function in supporting the validity of self-report of abstinence versus relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-58
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Alcohol dependence
  • Biological markers
  • Relapse
  • Self-report
  • Veteran population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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