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A review of risk perception measurement in tobacco control research

Abstract

Objective To describe the characteristics of risk perception measures used in tobacco control research and to evaluate whether these measures incorporate measurement suggestions put forward by risk perception measurement scholars.

Data sources Three databases (PubMed, PsycINFO and Web of Science) were searched in March 2015 for published English language peer-reviewed articles measuring tobacco risk perceptions (n=2557). The search string included terms related to tobacco products, perceptions and risk.

Study selection Three coders independently coded abstracts for initial inclusion. In total, 441 articles met the initial inclusion criteria, and 100 were randomly selected for a full-text review.

Data extraction A codebook was developed and tested through a training phase. Three coders independently coded the characteristics of each article (eg, population), multi-item measure (eg, validity) and item (eg, likelihood, affect, health outcome). Fifty-four articles, 33 measures and 239 items were coded.

Data synthesis Twenty-one articles had a multi-item risk perception measure, and 12 articles had one risk perception item. Many of the items asked about general health outcomes (36%), did not specify the person for whom risk was being judged (44%; eg, self, average person) or did not specify the conditions of use (27%; eg, the product used, intensity of use).

Conclusions There is little consistency across risk perception measures in tobacco research. There may be value in developing and disseminating best practices for assessing tobacco risk perceptions. A set of risk perception consensus measures may also benefit researchers in the field to help them consistently apply measurement recommendations.

  • prevention
  • surveillance and monitoring
  • smoking caused disease

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