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Validity of age at menarche self-reported in adulthood

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mwenza BlellORCiD, Professor Mark PearceORCiD


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Objective: To test the validity of age at menarche self-reported in adulthood and examine whether socioeconomic position, education, experience of gynaecological events and psychological symptoms influence the accuracy of recall. Design: Prospective birth cohort study. Setting: England, Scotland and Wales. Participants: 1050 women from the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development, with two measures of age at menarche, one recorded in adolescence and the other self-reported at age 48 years. Results: By calculating the limits of agreement, κ statistic and Pearson's correlation coefficients (r), we found that the validity of age at menarche self-reported in middle age compared with that recorded in adolescence was moderate (κ = 0.35, r = 0.66, n = 1050). Validity was improved by categorising age at menarche into three groups: early, normal and late (κ = 0.43). Agreement was influenced by educational level and having had a stillbirth or miscarriage. Conclusions: The level of validity shown in this study throws some doubt on whether it is justifiable to use age at menarche self-reported in middle age. It is likely to introduce error and bias, and researchers should be aware of these limitations and use such measures with caution.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cooper R, Blell M, Hardy R, Black S, Pollard TM, Wadsworth MEG, Pearce MS, Kuh D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

Year: 2006

Volume: 60

Issue: 11

Pages: 993-997

Print publication date: 01/11/2006

ISSN (print): 0143-005X

ISSN (electronic): 1470-2738

Publisher: BMJ Group


DOI: 10.1136/jech.2005.043182

PubMed id: 17053289


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Funder referenceFunder name
MC_U120063239Medical Research Council