How accurate is in-patient smoking status data collected by hospital admissions staff?

Aust N Z J Public Health. 1999 Dec;23(6):654-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-842x.1999.tb01555.x.


Objective: To determine the validity of self-reported in-patient smoking status data collected by admissions staff.

Method: Smoking status of new inpatients was recorded on to the computer registration screen. Urine samples collected from the patients (n = 167) were analysed for the presence of cotinine.

Results: Only 63% (95% CI 46%-81%) of the patients classified as smokers on the basis of urinary cotinine levels were recorded as smokers on the computerised record created by hospital admissions staff.

Conclusions: Admissions staff do not obtain reliable data on smoking status. However, most patients entered as non-smokers by admissions staff but registering high cotinine levels were subsequently recorded as smokers by their doctor in their medical record.

Implications: This study suggests that inpatients are more likely to report their smoking status accurately to their doctor than an admissions clerk, but about two-thirds of smokers will be correctly identified at admission and so could be targeted in computer-driven smoking-cessation interventions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales
  • Nicotine / analysis
  • Patient Participation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Urine / chemistry*


  • Nicotine