Is a history of alcohol problems or of psychiatric disorder associated with attrition at 11-year follow-up?

Kathleen K. Bucholz, Joseph J. Shayka, Stacey L. Marion, Collins E. Lewis, Elizabeth F. Pribor, Doris M. Rubio

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25 Scopus citations


Although rarely available, detailed analyses of attrition in psychiatric surveys are important because surveys of this type might be more vulnerable to follow-up losses. In this report the demographic characteristics, as well as history of alcohol problems and psychiatric disorders of responders were compared to nonresponders in an 11-year follow-up study. Data revealed few differences between responders and nonresponders. Men, those less educated, and low users of medical care were more likely to be nonresponders, as were those reporting driving trouble when drinking or a history of barbiturate abuse or dependence. A history of other psychiatric disorders was not associated with nonresponse. Refusal conversion did not change the findings; those who were converted (25% of initial refusals) had demographic characteristics, symptoms of alcohol abuse, and psychiatric histories comparable to those who resisted conversion. These findings suggest that efforts to convert refusals to responders might not be necessary. The results also support community psychiatric research by providing evidence that those with a history of psychiatric disorder are not more difficult to recruit than their unaffected counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-234
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1996


  • Attrition
  • alcoholism
  • longitudinal studies
  • nonresponder bias
  • psychiatric disorders


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