Reliability and reporting biases for perceived parental history of alcohol-related problems: Agreement between twins and differences between discordant pairs

Wendy S. Slutske*, Andrew C. Heath, Pamela A F Madden, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Stephen H. Dinwiddie, Michael P. Dunne, Dixie J. Statham, Nicholas G. Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Previous research suggests that family history of alcoholism assessments may be biased by characteristics of the informant. In this report, the reliability and potential biases in offspring reports of paternal and maternal alcohol-related problems were examined in a large community sample of adult twins. Methods: Subjects were volunteer participants in the Australian NH and MRC twin registry. Agreement between twin pairs on reports of paternal and maternal alcohol problems was assessed in 2,657 twin pairs (1,444 female-female pairs, 626 male-male pairs, and 587 female-male pairs). In addition, to detect systematic reporting biases, like-sex twin pairs whose paternal alcohol problems reports disagreed (n 164) were contrasted on measures of personality, state anxiety and depression, parental rearing, alcoholism, and alcohol use. Results: Twin agreement for parental alcohol- related problems was good, with overall kappas of .66 for paternal and .58 for maternal alcohol problems. When discordant twin pairs were compared we found that women who reported that their father had alcohol problems were significantly lower on EPQ-R Social Conformity that their twin sister who denied paternal alcohol problems; and there was a trend for men who reported that their father had alcohol problems to be higher in negative perceived patenting from father that their twin brother who denied paternal alcohol problems. Twins discordant for reporting paternal alcohol problems did not, however, differ on the major dimensions of personality, state anxiety and depression, alcoholism, or current alcohol use. Conclusions: The results of this study bolster our confidence in using the family history method to examine characteristics of offspring of alcoholics versus offspring of nonalcoholics on self-reported measures of personality and psychopathology, but suggest that some caution should be exercised when using this method to examine differences in offspring reported perception of parental rearing practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol
Volume57
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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