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Retrospective Smoking History Data Collection for Deceased Workers: Completeness and Accuracy of Surrogate Reports

Woo, Jessica Graus MHSA; Pinney, Susan M. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2002 - Volume 44 - Issue 10 - p 915-923
Original Articles
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Few studies have considered the completeness and accuracy of smoking histories from surrogates for deceased workers. We surveyed 68 surrogates for uranium plant workers who completed smoking histories before their deaths. Completeness: 96% of surrogates answered definitively (yes or no) about overall smoking status (eg, used any tobacco type), and 79 to 100% of those answered definitively about specific tobacco types. Of those reporting positive history, 50% to 67% answered detailed questions. Accuracy: Surrogates were accurate about overall smoking status (Kappa (κ) = 0.75) compared with index self-report, but tended to underreport (P = 0.10). Spouses and nonspouses performed similarly. Accuracy by tobacco type was moderate (κ = 0.21 to 0.56), with cigar smoking underreported. Surrogates for cigarette smokers underreported duration and amount smoked. Surrogates for deceased workers can report accurately on overall smoking status, but underreport other smoking habits.

From the University of Cincinnati, Department of Environmental Health, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Address correspondence to: Jessica Graus Woo, MHSA, PhD Candidate, University of Cincinnati, Department of Environmental Health, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, P.O. Box 670056, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0056; jagwoo@yahoo.com.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.