Study objectives: To describe the prevalence of parental prompting to smoke (eg, parent requests that their child light the parent’s cigarette in his/her own mouth) in a sample of families, and to assess the agreement between child and parent reports of the prompting behaviors.
Design, setting, and participants: A total of 3,624 adolescents from 10 middle/junior high schools completed baseline surveys. Parents identified as smokers in these surveys were contacted to complete a telephone survey. These analyses included 270 parent/child pairs. Fifty-one percent of parents were Latino American, 51% had the equivalent of a high-school diploma, 83% were employed when surveyed, and the median household monthly income was between $2,200 and $2,599.
Measurements and results: Students completed a paper-and-pencil survey assessing demographic characteristics, seven parental prompts to smoke, past month smoking, parental smoking, acculturation, and familism. A similar questionnaire was developed to collect information by telephone from smoking parents. Concordance between child- and parent-reported prompting was > 85% for five of seven prompts. However, the reported prevalence of six of the seven prompts was lower among parents than children. Thirty-two percent of mothers and 17% of fathers reported prompting their children to bring cigarettes to parents (the most common prompt). Students reported that 62% of their mothers and 54% of their fathers prompted them to bring their cigarettes, a substantial discrepancy in both cases.
Conclusions: Child-reported prompting prevalence was consistently higher than parents’ reports, with the biggest discrepancies between requests to clean ashtrays and bring cigarettes, the two most common prompts. In subsequent studies of parental prompting, it is advisable to collect data from both children and parents and to validate the accuracy of the sources.