Using Data Linkage to Investigate Inconsistent Reporting of Self-Harm and Questionnaire Non-Response

Becky Mars, Rosie Cornish, Jon Heron, Andrew Boyd, Catherine Crane, Keith Hawton, Glyn Lewis, Kate Tilling, John Macleod, David Gunnell

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

63 Citations (Scopus)
448 Downloads (Pure)


The objective of this study was to examine agreement between self-reported and medically recorded self-harm, and investigate whether the prevalence of self-harm differs in questionnaire responders vs. non-responders. A total of 4,810 participants from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) completed a self-harm questionnaire at age 16 years. Data from consenting participants were linked to medical records (number available for analyses ranges from 205-3,027). The prevalence of self-harm leading to hospital admission was somewhat higher in questionnaire non-responders than responders (2.0 vs. 1.2%). Hospital attendance with self-harm was under-reported on the questionnaire. One third reported self-harm inconsistently over time; inconsistent reporters were less likely to have depression and fewer had self-harmed with suicidal intent. Self-harm prevalence estimates derived from self-report may be underestimated; more accurate figures may come from combining data from multiple sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-141
Number of pages29
JournalArchives of Suicide Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2016

Structured keywords

  • Jean Golding
  • SASH


  • agreement
  • consistency
  • data linkage
  • self-harm
  • suicide attempt


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