Long-term recall of social relationships related to addiction and HIV risk behaviors

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Drug and alcohol dependence


BACKGROUND: Social relationships have been demonstrated as a key predictor of relapse among addicted persons and are likely to be important determinants of HIV risk behaviors also. However, the degree to which this population can reliably and consistently identify important people (IPs) in retrospect has been understudied.

METHODS: Using the modified Important People and Activities questionnaire, we investigated to what degree IPs were dropped, added, or retained, and whether data about individual IPs were reported accurately on 6- and 12-month follow up periods using a sample of 50 drug or alcohol abusing participants.

RESULTS: We found that IPs were largely retained, and that those retained versus dropped/added differed by their reaction to participant alcohol/drug use, as well as frequency of contact. We further found that there were differences in reliability of data describing specific IPs. While both 6- and 12-month follow up periods led to reliabilities ranging from excellent to fair, we found poorer reliability on responses to recall of "frequency of contact" and "reactions to drinking", as well as "reactions to drug use".

CONCLUSION: Future investigations of reliability of social relationships recalled retrospectively should attempt to examine possible systematic biases in addition to the reliability of specific IP data. More sophisticated studies are needed on factors associated with systematic variation in reporting of aspects of social relationships that are associated with addictions or HIV risk outcomes.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Alcohol Drinking; Alcoholism; Behavior, Addictive; Female; Follow-Up Studies; HIV Infections; Humans; Interpersonal Relations; Longitudinal Studies; Male; Mental Recall; Middle Aged; Reproducibility of Results; Risk-Taking; Substance-Related Disorders; Surveys and Questionnaires; Young Adult

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