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Association between an individual housing-based socioeconomic index and inconsistent self-reporting of health conditions: a prospective cohort study in the Mayo Clinic Biobank

15 May 2018


Using surveys to collect self-reported information on health and disease is commonly used in clinical practice and epidemiological research. However, the inconsistency of self-reported information collected longitudinally in repeated surveys is not well investigated. We aimed to investigate whether a socioeconomic status based on current housing characteristics, HOUsing-based SocioEconomic Status (HOUSES) index linking current address information to real estate property data, is associated with inconsistent self-reporting.

Study setting and participants

We performed a prospective cohort study using the Mayo Clinic Biobank (MCB) participants who resided in Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA, at the time of enrolment between 2009 and 2013, and were invited for a 4-year follow-up survey (n=11 717).

Primary and secondary outcome measures

Using repeated survey data collected at the baseline and 4 years later, the primary outcome was the inconsistency in survey results when reporting prevalent diseases, defined by reporting to have ‘ever’ been diagnosed with a given disease in the baseline survey but reported ‘never’ in the follow-up survey. Secondary outcome was the response rate for the 4-year follow-up survey.


Among the MCB participants invited for the 4-year follow-up survey, 8508/11 717 (73%) responded to the survey. Forty-three per cent had at least one inconsistent self-reported disease. Lower HOUSES was associated with higher inconsistency rates, and the association remained significant after pertinent characteristics such as age and perceived general health (OR=1.46; 95% CI 1.17 to 1.84 for the lowest compared with the highest HOUSES decile). HOUSES was also associated with lower response rate for the follow-up survey (56% vs 77% for the lowest vs the highest HOUSES decile).


This study demonstrates the importance of using the HOUSES index that reflects current SES when using self-reporting through repeated surveys, as the HOUSES index at baseline survey was inversely associated with inconsistent self-report and the response rate for the follow-up survey.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open