Recall (report) bias and reliability in the retrospective assessment of melanoma risk

Martin A. Weinstock, Graham A. Colditz, Walter C. Willet, Meir J. Stampfer, Bernard Rosner, Frank E. Speizer

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103 Scopus citations


In a case-control study nested in the Nurses' Health Study cohort, the authors assessed recall bias in the ascertainment of two risk factors for melanoma: hair color and ability to tart. Participants reported on these risk factors in a 1982 questionnaire and in a subsequent case-control questionnaire or telephone interview. The test-retest reliability among controls was high for both questions (Spearman's r = 0.76). Among women diagnosed with melanoma after the first questionnaire and before the second, there was a substantial shift toward reporting a reduced ability to tan when participants were questioned after the diagnosis of melanoma (p = 0.035). No shift was noted for the hair color question (p = 0.8). The authors conclude that recall bias was observed among female nurses with cutaneous melanoma in the assessment of tanning ability, a major risk factor for melanoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-245
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 1991


  • Bias
  • Cohort studies
  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Melanoma
  • Prospective studies
  • Questionnaires
  • Recall
  • Retrospective studies
  • Skin pigmentation


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