Smoker, ex-smoker or non-smoker? The validity of routinely recorded smoking status in UK primary care: a cross-sectional study.


Marston, L; Carpenter, JR; Walters, KR; Morris, RW; Nazareth, I; White, IR; Petersen, I; (2014) Smoker, ex-smoker or non-smoker? The validity of routinely recorded smoking status in UK primary care: a cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 4 (4). e004958. ISSN 2044-6055 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2014-004958

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE To investigate how smoking status is recorded in UK primary care; to evaluate whether appropriate multiple imputation (MI) of smoking status yields results consistent with health surveys. SETTING UK primary care and a population survey conducted in the community. PARTICIPANTS We identified 354 204 patients aged 16 or over in The Health Improvement Network (THIN) primary care database registered with their general practice 2008-2009 and 15 102 individuals aged 16 or over in the Health Survey for England (HSE). OUTCOME MEASURES Age-standardised and age-specific proportions of smokers, ex-smokers and non-smokers in THIN and the HSE before and after MI. Using information on time since quitting in the HSE, we estimated when ex-smokers are typically recorded as non-smokers in primary care records. RESULTS In THIN, smoking status was recorded for 84% of patients within 1 year of registration. Of these, 28% were smokers (21% in the HSE). After MI of missing smoking data, the proportion of smokers was 25% (missing at random) and 20% (missing not at random). With increasing age, more were identified as ex-smokers in the HSE than THIN. It appears that those who quit before age 30 were less likely to be recorded as an ex-smoker in primary care than people who quit later. CONCLUSIONS Smoking status was relatively well recorded in primary care. Misclassification of ex-smokers as non-smokers is likely to occur in those quitting smoking at an early age and/or a long time ago. Those with no smoking status information are more likely to be ex-smokers or non-smokers than smokers.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Medical Statistics
Research Centre: Centre for Statistical Methodology
PubMed ID: 24760355
Web of Science ID: 335830500022
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/1883903

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