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Measuring waterpipe tobacco smoking in survey research
  1. Erin L Sutfin1,
  2. Karma McKelvey2,
  3. Eric Soule3,
  4. Allison Glasser4,
  5. Hyoshin Kim5,
  6. Kimberly D Wiseman1,
  7. Rachel Grana6
  1. 1 Social Sciences and Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2 Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA
  3. 3 Department of Health Education and Promotion, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
  4. 4 Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, NYU College of Global Public Health, New York City, New York, USA
  5. 5 Health Analytics, Battelle Memorial Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA
  6. 6 Tobacco Control Research Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Erin L Sutfin, Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA; esutfin{at}


Waterpipe tobacco (WT) smoking remains a significant public health problem. However, few validated measures exist, presenting challenges for obtaining accurate prevalence estimates and making comparisons across studies. We identified items used to measure several WT smoking behaviours in eight US national surveys of youth and adults and two international studies, including the National Youth Tobacco Survey, National Adult Tobacco Survey, Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Adult and Youth Surveys, Monitoring the Future, National Health Interview Survey, Health Styles, Tobacco Use Supplement: Current Population Survey, Global Adult Tobacco Survey and Global Youth Tobacco Survey. We also identified WT survey items across the first 14 Food and Drug Administration-funded Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science. Constructs included product description and terminology, ever and current use, quantity and frequency, use of flavours and reasons for use. There was little consistency in WT measurement, highlighting the need for validated measures.

  • surveillance and monitoring
  • non-cigarette tobacco products
  • global health

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  • Contributors ELS, KM, ES, AG, HK conceptualised the study. All authors participated in the collection and analysis of survey measures and writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding Research reported in this abstract was supported by grant numbers P50CA180907, P50CA180523, P50DA036105, 1F32DA044733-01, 2U54DA036105-06 and 1U54CA189222-01 from the National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Drug Abuse and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the FDA. Dr. Grana reports no funding source for her work on this manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.