Remembrance of things past? Measuring life course exposures as determinants of health
Major longitudinal studies of aging, including the Survey of Health and Ageing in Europe (SHARE), have used retrospective life history (RLH) interviews to collect earlier life course exposures. However, reliability of RLH data has not been comprehensively evaluated against prospectively collected information. We present initial results from an adaptation of the SHARE RLH interview, fielded with the long-running American's Changing Lives (ACL) study (ACL-LIFE). Retrospectively and prospectively collected reports about different kinds of life events and statuses reveal varying levels of mismatch in reports of the occurrence of events like health shocks, bereavement, and others, with even more discordance in the reported count of events and their timing. The implications of these mismatches and their nonrandom occurrence is discussed in the context of life course analyses of the social determinants of health.