• Article

Consistency of self-reported drug use events in a mixed methods study of people who inject drugs

Background: Little is known about the consistency of information provided by people who inject drugs (PWID) during quantitative and qualitative interviews in mixed methods studies.

Objectives: We illustrate the use of the intraclass correlation coefficient, descriptive statistics, and regression to assess the consistency of information provided during a mixed methods study of PWID living in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, USA. Methods: Age of first use of heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, powder cocaine, and crack cocaine and first injection of heroin, methamphetamine, and powder cocaine were collected during an interviewer administered computer-assisted personal interview followed by an in-depth qualitative interview (n?=?102). Results: Participants were 63% male, racially/ethnically diverse. 80.4% between the ages of 40 and 60 years old, 89% US-born, and 57% homeless. Consistency of self-reported data was adequate for most drug use events. Exact concordance between quantitative and qualitative measures of age of onset ranged from 18.2–50%. Event ordering was consistent across qualitative and quantitative results for 90.2% of participants. Analyses indicated that age of onset for heroin use, heroin injection, and injection of any drug was significantly lower when assessed by qualitative methods as compared to quantitative methods. Conclusion: While inconsistency will emerge during mixed method studies, confidence in the timing and ordering of major types of events such as drug initiation episodes appear to be warranted.


Dyal, S. R., Kral, A., Dominguez Gonzalez, K., Wenger, L., & Bluthenthal, R. N. (2015). Consistency of self-reported drug use events in a mixed methods study of people who inject drugs. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 41(4), 332-338. DOI: 10.3109/00952990.2015.1037842