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Forgetting to Remember or Remembering to Forget - A Study of the Recall Period Length in Health Care Survey Questions

Author

Listed:
  • Kjellsson, Gustav

    () (Department of Economics, Lund University)

  • Clarke, Philip

    () (Centre for Health Policy, University of Melbourne)

  • Gerdtham, Ulf-G

    () (Department of Economics, Lund University)

Abstract

Self-reported data on utilization of health care is a key input into a range of studies. However, the length of the recall period in self-reported health care questions varies between surveys and this variation may affect the results of the studies. While longer recall periods include more information, shorter recall periods generally imply smaller bias. This article examines the role of the recall period length for the quality of self-reported data by comparing registered hospitalization with self-reported hospitalizations of respondents that are exposed to a varying recall period length of one, three, six, or twelve month. Our findings have conflicting implications for survey design as the preferred length of recall period depends on the objective of analysis. If the objective is an aggregated measure of hospitalization, longer recall periods are preferred whereas shorter recall periods may be considered for a more micro-oriented level analysis since the association between individual characteristics (e.g. education) and recall error increases with the length of the recall period.

Suggested Citation

  • Kjellsson, Gustav & Clarke, Philip & Gerdtham, Ulf-G, 2013. "Forgetting to Remember or Remembering to Forget - A Study of the Recall Period Length in Health Care Survey Questions," Working Papers 2013:1, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lunewp:2013_001
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    File URL: http://project.nek.lu.se/publications/workpap/papers/WP13_1.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Clarke, Philip M. & Fiebig, Denzil G. & Gerdtham, Ulf-G., 2008. "Optimal recall length in survey design," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1275-1284, September.
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    1. repec:spr:eujhec:v:19:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10198-017-0895-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Dackehag, Margareta & Ellegård, Lina Maria & Gerdtham, Ulf-G & Nilsson, Therese, 2018. "Social Assistance and Mental Health: Evidence from Longitudinal Data on Pharmaceutical Consumption," Working Papers 2018:2, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    3. Bensch, Gunther & Peters, Jörg, 2015. "The intensive margin of technology adoption – Experimental evidence on improved cooking stoves in rural Senegal," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 44-63.
    4. Persson, Sofie & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Steen Carlsson, Katarina, 2016. "Labor market consequences of childhood onset type 1 diabetes," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 180-192.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Survey Methods; Health survey; Hospitalization; Recall error; Recall periods;

    JEL classification:

    • C42 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Survey Methods
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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