The CSRI relies on the interviewee’s recall about services and supports used during a specified period ending at the data collection point. There is considerable debate as to whether recall is an ‘accurate’ reflection of ‘reality’. This is, of course, difficult to assess in the UK. The large databases that are available to US researchers, such as from billing records, are not available in the UK, and the only comparator is case notes. Problematically, case notes usually cover a single service (GPs, social workers, a single hospital) which means a lot of (expensive) leg-work for researchers and countless permissions to gain access to records. Moreover, such records are not always up-to-date, and only very rarely have sufficient details about length of contacts or location.

On the whole, those papers that have compared recall data with service records suggest a reasonable level of concordance. This can be improved through the use of semi-structured interviews, careful design of the questionnaire, and a recall period that is not too long (see also Woolderink et al 2015). Generally speaking, bias that a recall data collection method generates is outweighed by the benefits of being able to collect the information from a single source, rather than from a multitude of provider organisations and services.

Findings from analyses comparing CSRI data with case record or electronic data have looked at GP contacts and hospital care can be found in the following articles:

Simpson, S., Corney, R., Fitzgerald, P. and Beecham, J. (2000) A Randomised Controlled Trial to Evaluate the Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Counselling for Patients with Chronic Depression, Health Technology Assessment.

Byford, S., Leese, M., Knapp, M., Seivewright, H., Cameron, S ., Jones, V., Davidson, K ., Tyrer, P. (2007) Comparison of alternative methods of collection of service use data for the economic evaluation of health care interventions, Health Economics.

Patel, A., Rendu, A., Moran, P., Leese, M., Mann, A. and Knapp, M. (2005) A comparison of two methods of collecting economic data in primary care, Family Practice, 22, 3, 323-327

Woolderink, M., Lynch, F., van Asselt, A., Beecham, J., Evers, A., Paulus, A., Smit, F. & van Schayck, C. (2015) Methodological considerations in service use assessment for children and youth with mental health conditions; issues for economic evaluation, Journal of Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services, 42, 3, 296-308

The DIRUM (Database of Instruments for Resource Use Management) website also hosts a wide range of information about collection resource use information.