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How Accurate are Self-Reports? Analysis of Self-Reported Health Care Utilization and Absence When Compared With Administrative Data

Short, Meghan E. MPH; Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Pei, Xiaofei PhD; Tabrizi, Maryam J. MS; Ozminkowski, Ronald J. PhD; Gibson, Teresa B. PhD; DeJoy, Dave M. PhD; Wilson, Mark G. HSD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 7 - p 786-796
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181a86671
Original Articles

Objective: To determine the accuracy of self-reported health care utilization and absence reported on health risk assessments against administrative claims and human resource records.

Methods: Self-reported values of health care utilization and absenteeism were analyzed for concordance to administrative claims values. Percent agreement, Pearson’s correlations, and multivariate logistic regression models examined the level of agreement and characteristics of participants with concordance.

Results: Self-report and administrative data showed greater concordance for monthly compared with yearly health care utilization metrics. Percent agreement ranged from 30% to 99% with annual doctor visits having the lowest percent agreement. Younger people, males, those with higher education, and healthier individuals more accurately reported their health care utilization and absenteeism.

Conclusions: Self-reported health care utilization and absenteeism may be used as a proxy when medical claims and administrative data are unavailable, particularly for shorter recall periods.

From the Division of Health and Productivity Research (Ms Short, Dr Goetzel, Dr Pei, Ms Tabrizi), Thomson Reuters (Healthcare), Washington, DC; Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Dr Goetzel), Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga; Consulting Economist (Dr Ozminkowski), Ann Arbor, Mich; Health Outcomes Research Division (Dr Gibson), Thomson Reuters (Healthcare), Ann Arbor, Mich; and Department of Health Promotion and Behavior (Dr DeJoy, Dr Wilson), College of Public Health, University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

The opinions expressed in this paper are the authors’ and do not represent the opinions of Emory University or Thomson Reuters.

Address correspondence to: Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Consulting and Applied Research, Thomson Reuters, 4301 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 330, Washington, DC 20008; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine