Reporting of Life Events Over Time: Methodological Issues in a Longitudinal Sample of Women

Nancy A. Pachana*, Sam L. Brilleman, Annette J. Dobson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The number of life events reported by study participants is sensitive to the method of data collection and time intervals under consideration. Individual characteristics also influence reporting; respondents with poor mental health report more life events. Much current research on life events is cross-sectional. Data from a longitudinal study of women's health from 4 waves over a decade suggest that over time additional systematic biases in reporting life events occur. Inconsistency over time is due to both fall-off of reporting and telescoping. Intracategory variability and ambiguity of items, as well as respondent characteristics, also potentially contribute to response biases. Although some factors (e.g.. item wording) are controllable, others (e.g., respondents' mental health) are not and must be factored into data analysis and interpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-281
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • SF-36
  • mental health
  • longitudinal data
  • fall-off
  • life events
  • intracategory variability

Cite this