Evaluating HIV prevention interventions among drug abusers: Validity issues

Robert M. Malow, Shara L. Gustman, David Ziskind, Robert McMahon, Janet St. Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recent literature identifies many difficulties in validly measuring sex and drug use behavior associated with HIV risk, particularly among adolescents. In evaluating HIV risk reduction interventions, this literature emphasizes that, in addition to the more obvious determinants of self-report bias (e.g., response style, interviewer characteristics, social desirability, the interview setting), other factors require careful consideration (e.g., whether the person is assigned to a treatment or comparison group; whether the interview occurred at intake, in treatment, or post-discharge; and the severity of the respondent's drug use). It also emphasizes the importance of including toxicologic STD and drug use measures in treatment outcome research to validate respondents' self-reports of risk behavior and adjust them for under-reporting. Guided by the literature, this article suggests procedures for more validly measuring HIV risk reduction, particularly among drug abusing adolescents. These include medical record abstraction, qualitative interviews, and extensive data validity checks to detect illogical or inconsistent responding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education for Adolescents and Children
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 1998


  • Adolescent offenders
  • Adolescent risk reduction
  • Drug abuse
  • HIV risk assessment
  • Self-report validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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