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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB and Peoples Health Investigate the Validity of Self-Reported Survey Responses

Using Medicare Advantage plan claims data and member survey data from 2011 to 2012, Dr. Bisakha Sen, professor in the department of health care organization and policy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, working with UAB alumna Dr. Barbara Guerard, senior vice president of health services for Peoples Health (Louisiana)—along with Dr. Sen’s UAB colleague Dr. S. Robert Hernandez, professor in the department of health services administration—examined the agreement between patient self-reports and the organization’s administrative claims data for two significant health factors: the number of chronic conditions and the number of prescription drugs. Surveys were mailed to a random sample of 15,000 members who had been enrolled for a minimum of six months. The team used multivariate logistic regressions to examine the association of selected respondent characteristics with the likelihood of concordance.


[Photo: Dr. Bisakha Sen]

Study findings indicate that “[c]oncordance for number of chronic conditions was 58.4 percent, with 27.3 percent under-reporting, 14.2 percent over-reporting. Concordance for number of prescription drugs was 56.6 percent with 38.9 percent under-reporting, 4.5 percent over-reporting. Number of prescriptions and assistance in survey completion were associated with higher likelihood of concordance for chronic conditions. Assistance in survey completion and number of chronic conditions were associated with higher concordance, and age and number of prescriptions were associated with lower concordance, for prescription drugs.”

The researchers concluded that the number of chronic conditions and prescription medications that were self-reported are not in agreement with claims data and advise that health care researchers and policy makers should be aware of these potential biases.

“The Influence of Respondent Characteristics on the Validity of Self-Reported Survey Responses” was published online in September 2015 in the journal Health Services Research.

Journal article:;jsessionid=CEABE67F1EA47096F2228B4B84C3B96B.f01t01?userIsAuthenticated=false&deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=