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.