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J Occup Environ Med. 2008 Dec;50(12):1414-20. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318188b90a.

Accuracy of self-reported smoking and secondhand smoke exposure in the US workforce: the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Fla 33136, USA.



Occupational health studies often rely on self-reported secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure. This study examines the accuracy of self-reported tobacco use and SHS exposure.


Data on serum cotinine, self-reported tobacco use, and SHS exposure for US workers were extracted from three National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (n = 17,011). Serum cotinine levels were used to classify workers into SHS exposure categories. The percent agreement between self-reported tobacco use and SHS exposure with the cotinine categories was calculated.


Workers reporting tobacco use were 88% accurate whereas workers reporting work, home, or home+work exposures were 87% to 92% accurate. Workers reporting no SHS exposure were only 28% accurate.


Workers accurately reported their smoking status and workplace-home SHS exposures, but substantial numbers reporting "no exposures" had detectable levels of cotinine in their blood, indicating exposure to SHS.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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