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Experiment to Enhance the Reporting of Drug Use By Arrestees

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 30 Issue: 1 Dated: 2000 Pages: 55-76
Date Published
22 pages

This study determined whether modifying data-collection procedures of the Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) Program could improve the accuracy of self-reporting (Findings under current DUF procedures indicate that many arrestees under-report recent drug use) without adversely affecting DUF response rates.


The modified procedures were tested at three DUF sites and involved the use of a more detailed informed consent procedure and/or altering the sequence of urine specimen collection to precede self-reporting. The study produced three main findings. First, none of the experimental conditions lowered the rate of interview and urinalysis response rates among arrestees. Second, whether or not an arrestee received the standard or altered informed consent procedure did not increase the accuracy rate for self-reported drug use. Third, although some comparisons indicated that performing urinalysis before self-reporting interviews raised the accuracy rate of self-reporting, this happened in only one of the three sites. Based on these findings, the authors suggest that drug abuse researchers consider obtaining a urine specimen before conducting a research interview. Such a strategy might improve the accuracy of self-reporting of drug use, as it did in some cases in the current study. Asking for the specimen first apparently does not adversely influence participation in the research. Some of the interviewers reported that this approach might make arrestees feel more comfortable than the unannounced requesting of a urine specimen in the course of the interview. Also, anecdotal reports from the field where onsite portable urinalysis has been used suggest that the immediate revelation of test results might improve the disclosure of illicit drug use. A total of 2,009 Cleveland, Detroit, and Houston arrestees were randomly assigned to the standard and experimental procedures. 7 tables, 1 figure, and 18 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000