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Methods of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey
  1. M E Thompson1,
  2. G T Fong1,
  3. D Hammond1,
  4. C Boudreau1,
  5. P Driezen1,
  6. A Hyland2,
  7. R Borland3,
  8. K M Cummings2,
  9. G B Hastings4,
  10. M Siahpush3,
  11. A M Mackintosh4,
  12. F L Laux5
  1. 1University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA
  3. 3The Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  5. 5Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Mary E Thompson
 PhD, Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada; methomps{at}


This paper outlines the design features, data collection methods and analytic strategies of the International Tobacco Control (ITC) Four Country Survey, a prospective study of more than 2000 longitudinal respondents per country with yearly replenishments. This survey possesses unique features that sets it apart among surveys on tobacco use and cessation. One of these features is the use of theory-driven conceptual models. In this paper, however, the focus is on the two key statistical features of the survey: longitudinal and “quasi-experimental” designs. Although it is often possible to address the same scientific questions with a cross-sectional or a longitudinal study, the latter has the major advantage of being able to distinguish changes over time within individuals from differences among people at baseline (that is, differences between age and cohort effects). Furthermore, quasi-experiments, where countries not implementing a given new tobacco control policy act as the control group to which the country implementing such a policy will be compared, provide much stronger evidence than observational studies on the effects of national-level tobacco control policies. In summary, application of rigorous research methods enables this survey to be a rich data resource, not only to evaluate policies, but also to gain new insights into the natural history of smoking cessation, through longitudinal analyses of smoker behaviour.

  • AAPOR, American Association for Public Opinion Research
  • CASRO, Council of American Survey Research Organizations
  • FCTC, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
  • GEE, generalised estimating equations
  • ITC, International Tobacco Control
  • ITC-4, International Tobacco Control Four Country Survey
  • RDD, random-digit dialling
  • SES, socioeconomic status
  • SSI, Survey Sampling International
  • longitudinal survey
  • survey design
  • sampling weights
  • policy evaluation
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  • Competing interests: no competing interests.

  • Ethics clearance: This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance from the Institutional Review Board or Research Ethics Board at each of the following institutions: Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the University of Waterloo, the University of Illinois at Chicago, The Cancer Council Victoria, University of Strathclyde, University of Stirling and The Open University.

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