Underreporting of drug use on a survey of electronic dance music party attendees

OBJECTIVES: Skip-logic is commonly used on electronic surveys in which programs provide follow-up questions to affirmative responses and skip to the next topic in response to non-affirmative responses. While skip-logic helps produce data without contradictory responses, erroneous non-affirmative reports can lead to loss of accurate information. We examined the extent to which type-in drug use responses contradict unreported use in a survey of a high-risk population — electronic dance music (EDM) party attendees.

DESIGN: We surveyed 1029 EDM party-attending adults (ages 18–40) using time-spacing sampling in 2018. We examined the extent to which reporting of recent drug use via type-in responses occurred after past-year use of the same drugs were unreported earlier on the same survey. Changes in prevalence of use and predictors of providing discordant responses were examined.

RESULTS: 3.6% of participants typed in names of drugs they had used that they did not report using earlier on the survey. Changes in prevalence were not significant when correcting contradictory responses, but prevalence of past-year cocaine use increased from 23.3% to 24.3%. Those with a college degree were at lower odds for providing a discordant response (aOR=0.13, p=.019). Females (aOR=2.82, p=.022), those earning =$1000 per week (aOR=11.03, p=.011), and those identifying as gay/lesbian (aOR=5.20, p=.032) or bisexual or other sexuality (aOR=15.12, p<.001) were at higher odds of providing a discordant response.

CONCLUSIONS: Electronic surveys that query drug use can benefit from follow-up (e.g. open-ended) questions not dependent on previous responses, as they may elicit affirmative responses underreported earlier in the survey.

Full citation:
Palamar JJ, Le A (2019).
Underreporting of drug use on a survey of electronic dance music party attendees
Addiction Research and Theory [Epub 2019 Aug 20]. doi: 10.1080/16066359.2019.1653860.