INTRODUCTION Tobacco smoke exposure (TSE) harms children and adults. Studies of childhood TSE exposure often relies on parental reports, but may benefit from objective measures. The objective of our study was to study the relationship between reported and objective measures of TSE. METHODS We analyzed data from four intervention trials, conducted in clinical or community settings, to identify objective measures most closely associated with parent-reported measures and the optimal set of parent-reported measures for predicting objective measures. We also assessed whether there was a learning curve in reported exposure over time, and the importance of replicate biomarker measures. RESULTS Correlations between objective and parent-reported measures of child TSE were modest at best, ranging from zero to 0.41. Serum cotinine and urinary cotinine were most strongly associated with parental reports. Parental questions most closely related to biomarkers were number of cigarettes and home smoking rules; together these formed the best set of predictive questions. No trial included all objective measures and all questions, precluding definitive statements about relative advantages. Within-subject repeatability of biomarker measures varied across studies, suggesting that direct pilot data are needed to assess the benefit of replicate measurements. CONCLUSIONS Improvements in objective and parent-reported child exposure measurements are needed to accurately monitor child TSE, evaluate efforts to reduce such exposure, and better protect child health.
- parental report
- tobacco smoke exposure