Introduction: We examined the accuracy of research participant characterizations of motor vehicle collisions (MVC).
Methods: We conducted an emergency department-based prospective study of adults presenting for care after experiencing an MVC. Study participants completed a structured clinical interview that assessed the number of lanes of the road where the collision took place, vehicle type, road condition, speed limit, seat belt use, airbag deployment, vehicle damage, time of collision, and use of ambulance transportation. Study participant data were then compared with information recorded by Michigan State Police at the scene of the MVC. Agreement between research participant reports and police-reported data were assessed by using percentage agreement and j coefficients for categorical variables and correlation coefficients for continuous variables.
Results: There were 97 study participants for whom emergency department interviews and Michigan State Police Report information were available. Percentage agreement was 51% for number of lanes,76% for car drivability, 88% for road condition, 91% for vehicle type, 92% for seat belt use, 94% for airbag deployment, 96% for speed limit, 97% for transportation by ambulance, and 99% for vehicle seat position. j values were 0.32 for seat belt use, 0.34 for number of lanes, 0.73 for vehicle type, 0.76 for speed limit, 0.77 for road condition, 0.87 for airbag deployment, 0.90 for vehicle seat position, and 0.94for transport by ambulance. Correlation coefficients were 0.95 for the time of the collision, and 0.58 for extent of damage to the vehicle. Most discrepancies between patients and police about extent of vehicle damage occurred for cases in which the patient reported moderate or severe damage but the police reported only slight damage.
Conclusion: For most MVC characteristics, information reported by research participants was consistent with police-reported data. Agreement was moderate or high for characteristics of greatestrelevance to injury biomechanics. These results suggest that research participant report is an acceptable source of collision information. [West J Emerg Med. 2012;13(4):329–334.]