Objectives: This research compared the validity of self-reports of cigarette smoking for African-American, Hispanic, and White respondents. Previous research has raised a question about the validity of self-report for African Americans.
Methods: A self-report of cigarette smoking was obtained together with a measure of carbon monoxide from expired air. Convergence between self-reported smoking and the biochemical measure was analyzed separately for three ethnic groups at 7th grade, 8th grade, 9th grade, and 10th grade.
Results: Analyses indicated that the validity of self-reports of smoking was generally comparable across ethnic groups. Sensitivity and specificity were comparable with data reported in recent meta-analyses. Though sensitivity was slightly lower for minority adolescents than for White adolescents, prevalence rates corrected for group differences in sensitivity showed significantly lower smoking rates for African-American and Hispanic adolescents than for White adolescents.
Conclusions: The lower smoking rates reported for African-American adolescents are real and are not substantially a consequence of reporting artifacts.