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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Validation of survey information on smoking and alcohol consumption against import statistics, Greenland 1993-2010


Questionnaires are widely used to obtain information on health-related behaviour, and they are more often than not the only method that can be used to assess the distribution of behaviour in subgroups of the population. No validation studies of reported consumption of tobacco or alcohol have been published from circumpolar indigenous communities.

The purpose of the study is to compare information on the consumption of tobacco and alcohol obtained from 3 population surveys in Greenland with import statistics.

Estimates of consumption of cigarettes and alcohol using several different survey instruments in cross-sectional population studies from 1993–1994, 1999–2001 and 2005–2010 were compared with import statistics from the same years.

For cigarettes, survey results accounted for virtually the total import. Alcohol consumption was significantly under-reported with reporting completeness ranging from 40% to 51% for different estimates of habitual weekly consumption in the 3 study periods. Including an estimate of binge drinking increased the estimated total consumption to 78% of the import.

Compared with import statistics, questionnaire-based population surveys capture the consumption of cigarettes well in Greenland. Consumption of alcohol is under-reported, but asking about binge episodes in addition to the usual intake considerably increased the reported intake in this population and made it more in agreement with import statistics. It is unknown to what extent these findings at the population level can be inferred to population subgroups.

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