Does Tobacco Screening in Youth Primary Care Identify Youth Vaping?

J Adolesc Health. 2021 Sep;69(3):519-522. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.01.017. Epub 2021 Feb 18.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of a tobacco use screening question, modified to include the word "e-cigarette," in detecting past 12-month nicotine vaping and past 12-month tobacco product use inclusive of nicotine vaping, among adolescent primary care patients.

Methods: We conducted secondary analysis of data from a pilot trial of adolescent substance use screening and brief intervention in pediatric primary care. Participants were patients aged 12-18 years (N = 278) presenting for annual well-visits at five practices in Massachusetts in 2015-2017. Study measures consisted of a clinical brief screener item and tobacco/electronic cigarette items on a confidential, self-administered research questionnaire (criterion measure).

Results: The clinical brief screener item identified 24 of 30 adolescents with past 12-month tobacco use (sensitivity 80%); 15 of 30 with past 12-month electronic cigarette use (sensitivity 50.0%), and 25 of 42 with tobacco and/or electronic cigarette use (sensitivity 59.5%).

Conclusions: These findings support the need to develop and test a screening measure that is sensitive for capturing electronic cigarette use.

Keywords: Adolescents; Nicotine; Primary care; Screening; Tobacco; Vaping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care
  • Tobacco
  • Tobacco Products*
  • Tobacco Use
  • Vaping*