The Gerontologist, Vol 35, Issue 4 553-555, Copyright © 1995 by The Gerontological Society of America
Quality of survey informants' reports about death: verification of dates through a record check
NH Fultz and AR Herzog
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48106- 1248, USA.
To determine whether relatives and others can provide valid information
about the dates of survey respondents' deaths, informants' reports were
compared with death certificates for 328 deceased respondents from the MESA
study of older adults. About two-thirds (64.6%) of the informants
accurately reported the complete date of death. A somewhat larger
percentage (70.4%) correctly reported the day of death, whereas 86.9% and
89.6% remembered the year and month, respectively. The percentage of
correct reports varies by the relationship between informant and
respondent. Also, the findings suggest that women are more accurate
reporters than are men, and that the percentage of accurate reports is
greater for longer-term relationships.