Research Findings

Methods Studies - Survey Research

Simplified categorization of outdoor activities for male and female U.S. indoor workers-a feasibility study to improve assessment of ultraviolet radiation exposures in epidemiologic study questionnaires (2009)
 A pilot study of 124 retired U.S. radiologic technologists evaluated the feasibility of using a short checklist of outdoor activities to improve estimation of sun exposure for use in epidemiologic studies. Participants completed a daily activity diary of indoor and outdoor activities for one week. Investigators classified these activities into seven groups (driving, yard work, home-maintenance, walking or performing errands, water activities, other recreational or sports activities, and leisure activities or relaxing outdoors), which represented 94% of the time spent outdoors among working and retired men and women.
Assessment of lifetime cumulative sun exposure using a self-administered questionnaire: reliability of two approaches (2009)
 We compared the reliability of lifetime sun exposure estimated from self-reported numbers of hours spent outdoors during different periods (time-based approach) with that from self-reported time spent outdoors according to specific activities (activity-based approach) in 124 radiologic technologists. Using self-administered mail questionnaires, evaluation of test and re-test responses revealed that the activity-based questionnaire produced an increase in overall reliability of sun exposure in adult years and over the lifetime that was greater in women than men.
Agreement between diary records of time spent outdoors and personal ultraviolet radiation dose measurements (2008)
 This study assessed the validity of self-recorded sun exposure and time spent outdoors among 124 volunteers age 40 and older within the U.S. Radiologic Technologists cohort. Participants were asked to wear a polysulfone dosimeter to measure ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and to record in a daily diary all activities undertaken between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM in 30 minute intervals over a 7-day period. A significant correlation was observed between diary records of time spent outdoors and UVR dose measurements. Activities that occurred around noon time and those that typically involved sun exposure were more closely correlated with UVR doses than those that occurred in the morning or late afternoon and in ones that were shaded from the sun.
Agreement between contemporaneously recorded and subsequently recalled time spent outdoors: implications for environmental exposure studies (2007)
 This study assessed validity and reliability of self-reported usual outdoor activity patterns for use in future studies of ultraviolet irradiation and skin and other cancers. We compared diary entries of activity patterns made contemporaneously with the activity with questionnaire reports obtained 6 months later. Outdoor activity during weekdays was significantly better reported than outdoor activity on weekend days.
Comparison between cancers identified by state cancer registry, self-report, and death certificate in a prospective cohort study of US radiologic technologists (letter) (2006)
 When medical records or pathology reports to confirm diagnoses are unavailable, we rely on self-reported diagnoses or death records to identify cancer outcomes. We compared our cancer reports (from radiologic technologists and death records) with those of four state cancer registries to assess: (a) the percentage of reported cases in which the cancer was correctly identified; and (b) the extent of under-ascertainment of cancers from self-reports, death records, or survey non-response. We found that certain cancers (breast, colon, prostate) were well-identified through self-reports and death records and others (melanoma, uterine) were not. Under-reporting of cancers was quite low in this medically-savvy cohort.
Randomized trial of financial incentives and delivery methods for improving response to a mailed questionnaire (2003)
 During the mid-1990s, we undertook a second questionnaire survey of the USRT cohort. After two mailings, only 64% of the radiologic technologists who were known living at the time had responded. We conducted a randomized trial of financial incentives and delivery methods to identify the least costly approach for increasing overall participation. Federal Express delivery did not improve participation over first-class mail; however, small monetary incentives, given as a token of our appreciation, did significantly increase response. Based on our findings, we sent a $1.00 bill by first-class mail to the remaining non-responders and increased overall participation to 72%.
Comparability of National Death Index Plus and standard procedures for determining causes of death in epidemiologic studies (2001)
 For a sample of 250 radiologic technologists who were known to be deceased, we compared the underlying cause of death codes obtained from the National Death Index Plus with those determined by obtaining death certificates from state vital statistics offices and having contractor nosologists code them. We found that NDI Plus provided comparable information within a substantially shorter time period for most states and, for known decedents, at about half the cost of standard procedures.