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Table 3 Summary table of the advantages and disadvantages of the quantity-frequency, graduated-frequency and short-term recall measures

From: Evaluation of the psychometric properties of self-reported measures of alcohol consumption: a COSMIN systematic review

Measure type Advantages Disadvantages
Quantity-frequency measures • Easily administered.
• Simple structure; respondents are more likely to understand the measure.
• Well-established (respondents are more likely to be familiar with the measure).
• Captures ‘usual’ drinking behaviour, unaffected by occasions or seasons where more alcohol consumption may occur.
• Can increase reliability by including beverage-specific questions.
• May not record heavy episodic drinking occasions.
Graduated-frequency measures • Categories act as prompts for respondents.
• Answers are easily standardised to identify those drinking above the guidelines.
• Can increase reliability by including beverage-specific questions.
• May not record heavy episodic drinking occasions.
Short-term recall measures • Can focus questions on specific drinking events.
• Requires respondents to consider their responses to a greater extent (as answers are not structured).
• Respondents can report their alcohol consumption (in standard drinks sizes, units etc.) in a way they are familiar with.
• Can increase reliability by including beverage-specific questions.
• Hard to standardise answers to the same measure recorded in different formats.
• Respondents may be confused by lack of response options.
  1. Table Legend: Summary of the advantages and disadvantages of the three self-reported alcohol consumption measure types; the quantity-frequency, graduated-frequency and short-term recall measures