Medical College of Wisconsin
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Reliability of retrospective assessments of sexual HIV risk behavior: a comparison of biweekly, three-month, and twelve-month self-reports. AIDS Educ Prev 1991;3(3):207-14



Pubmed ID


Scopus ID

2-s2.0-0026075512   226 Citations


A review of 30 AIDS behavioral research studies revealed that almost half employed retrospective sexual activity assessment periods of 12 months or longer. The present study examined the correspondence between retrospective reports of sexual activity for 3 overlapping time-frames (past 2 weeks, past 3 months, and past 12 months) for 61 gay men. Adjusted for equivalent 12-month intervals, the reported mean frequencies of sexual practices were considerably higher for shorter recall periods than for longer recall periods, a discrepancy greater than would be expected by normal activity fluctuation. The study also found that behavior reported across shorter retrospective time-frames was more consistent, while reliability for frequently occurring and unsafe sexual activities decreased as the recall period lengthened. Studies utilizing recall periods of 12 months or more may produce data of questionable reliability.

Author List

Kauth MR, St Lawrence JS, Kelly JA


Jeffrey A. Kelly PhD Professor in the Psychiatry department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

HIV Seropositivity
Meta-Analysis as Topic
Middle Aged
Reproducibility of Results
Retrospective Studies
Risk Factors
Sexual Behavior
Surveys and Questionnaires
jenkins-FCD Prod-444 eb4ebd1a08581aba961d3befd3b851a3c3ec6b46