Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Reliability and Validity of Self-Reported Health Status among U.S. Adolescents

Jason D. Boardman, University of Colorado at Boulder

This study examines the reliability and validity of standard self-reported health measures among adolescents. Using data from Wave 1 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 13,275), this study compares the internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and construct validity of survey-based health assessments among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Asian-American, Hispanic, Native American, and Multi-Racial adolescents. Self-reported morbidity demonstrates an acceptable level of internal consistency (Alpha = .775) but low test-retest reliability (Rho =.393). Likewise, self-rated health demonstrates poor test-retest reliability (Kappa =.272). However, self-rated health and self-reported morbidity operate in predictable ways and are found to be valid measures of physical health status. These results are not similar across race/ethnic groups. These findings suggest that adolescent's self-reported health status is temporally and contextually specific and population health estimates should not rely on data obtained from survey questionnaires administered to children and adolescents.

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Presented in Session 134: Adolescent Health and Obesity in the U.S.