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Factors Affecting Agreement Between Participant and Collateral Reports of Participant Drug Use Among College Students

Hagman, Brett T. PhD*; Cohn, Amy M. PhD*; Noel, Nora E. PhD

Addictive Disorders & Their Treatment: September 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 3 - p 123-134
doi: 10.1097/ADT.0b013e3181e5c21e
Original Articles

Objective This study examined the correspondence between college students' self-reported drug use and corresponding collateral reports, and identified factors that influence agreement between them.

Method A total of 300 Participant-Collateral (P-C) pairs were recruited to participate in this study.

Results Data yielded moderate correlations between P-C pairs for specific drug use variables, whereas discrepancy analyses revealed a tendency for participants to report greater drug use relative to collateral reports. Regression analyses indicated that greater P-C agreement occurred for frequency of participant drug use when participants' consumed less alcohol, collaterals' engaged in less drug use, and participants and collaterals endorsed drinking or using drugs together.

Conclusion Findings suggest that collateral informants in college student research should be a peer who uses drugs infrequently, but has been able to socialize with participants in situations in which drug and alcohol use occurs.

*Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ

Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

Reprints: Brett T. Hagman, PhD, Center of Alcohol Studies, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08903 (e-mail:

Parts of this manuscript were presented at the 2009 Research Society's on Alcoholism Annual Conference in San Diego, CA.

Throughout the manuscript, drug use refers to substance use other than alcohol consumption, caffeine or nicotine.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.