High validity of mother-reported use of antiasthmatics among children: a comparison with a population-based prescription database

J Clin Epidemiol. 2011 Aug;64(8):878-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2010.10.014. Epub 2011 Jan 13.


Objectives: To examine the validity of (1) maternal questionnaire report of children's use of antiasthmatics using a prescription database as the reference standard and (2) dispensed antiasthmatics as a measure of asthma using maternal report of children's asthma as the reference standard.

Study design and setting: A total of 3,394 children in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study aged 7 years were linked to the Norwegian Prescription Database. Maternal report of both children's use of antiasthmatics during the preceding year and the presence of asthma was compared with data on dispensed antiasthmatics.

Results: A total of 2,056 mothers responded and reported use of antiasthmatics during the previous year in 125 of 147 children who had been dispensed antiasthmatics (sensitivity 85.0%). Of the 1,909 children with no dispensed antiasthmatics, 1,848 had no maternal report of antiasthmatic use (specificity 96.8%). Mothers reported current asthma in 133 (6.5% of 2,056) children, including in 122 (5.9%) reported as verified by a doctor. Of these 122, 98 had been dispensed antiasthmatics during the preceding year (sensitivity 80.3%). Only 1.2% of the children without reported asthma were dispensed antiasthmatics.

Conclusion: Mother-reported use of antiasthmatics during the previous year among 7-year-old children is highly valid. Dispensed antiasthmatics would be a useful proxy for the presence of current asthma when disease data are not available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Child
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data*
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Reference Standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents