INTRODUCTION - Self-reported household pesticide use has been associated with higher risk of childhood leukemia in a number of case-control studies. The aim of this study is to assess the reliability of self-reported household use of pesticides and potential differences in reliability by case-control status, and by socio-demographic characteristics.
METHODS - Analyses are based on a subset of the Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study population. Eligible households included those with children less than 8 years old who lived in the same residence since diagnosis (reference date for controls). The reliability was based on two repeated in-person interviews. Kappa, percent positive and negative agreements were used to assess reliability of responses to ever/never use of six pesticides categories.
RESULTS - Kappa statistics ranged from 0.31 to 0.61 (fair to substantial agreement), with 9 out of the 12 tests indicating moderate agreement. The percent positive agreement ranged from 46 to 80% and the percent negative agreement from 54 to 95%. Reliability for all pesticide types as assessed by the three reliability measures did not differ significantly for cases and controls as confirmed by bootstrap analysis. For most pesticide types, Kappa and percent positive agreement were higher for non-Hispanics than Hispanics and for households with higher income vs. lower income.
CONCLUSIONS - Reproducibility of maternal-reported pesticide use was moderate to high and was similar among cases and controls suggesting that differential recall is not likely to be a major source of bias.
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