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The influence of response options on self-reported frequency of alcohol use was evaluated in an experimental study of 350 students at a west coast university. Respondents were asked about their frequency of alcohol use in the last 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, and 180 days with three methodological factors randomized: 1) how quantitative the response options were; 2) order of presentation of close-ended response options; and 3) relative placement of alcohol use items in the questionnaire. Results indicate that the quantitativeness of response options and the location of items within the questionnaire have minimal effects on the average frequency of alcohol use and number of inconsistent responses over a wide range of time frames. However, presenting higher frequency response options prior to lower frequency response options increased self-reported frequency of having consumed 2 or more drinks in the last 30 days and frequency of alcohol use over the last 180 days.

Originally published in: International Journal of the Addictions, v. 29, no. 14, pp. 1909-1917.

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