Adolescents validly report their exposure to secondhand smoke



      This study examined the validity of child-reported exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) and investigated factors, such as child's age, which might affect accuracy of recall.

      Study Design and Setting

      Participants were drawn from a nonprobability sample of 380 families who completed baseline assessment as part of a randomized trial of an SHS reduction intervention conducted in an urban setting in Southern California. Parents and children (aged 8–13 years) retrospectively reported child's exposure to SHS using timeline followback methodology; reports were compared with child's urine cotinine.


      Validity coefficients for parents and children were comparable (r=0.58 vs. r=0.53), but parents recalled three times more exposure than children (2.2 vs. 0.8 cigarettes per day; P<0.001). Regression models predicting cotinine indicated that including child in addition to parent reports resulted in better prediction than either alone.


      When there is a choice, parent reports are preferable over child reports because of decreased underreporting. However, child-reported SHS exposure had adequate validity (r>0.50) and might be appropriate in some situations. Researchers might consider collecting both parent and child reports because each made a unique contribution to the prediction of cotinine.


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