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Open Access Review

Methodologies used to estimate tobacco-attributable mortality: a review

Mónica Pérez-Ríos123* and Agustín Montes23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Directorate-General for Public Health, Galician Regional Health Authority, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

2 Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

3 CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Spain

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-22

Published: 22 January 2008

Abstract

Background

One of the most important measures for ascertaining the impact of tobacco on a population is the estimation of the mortality attributable to its use. To measure this, a number of indirect methods of quantification are available, yet there is no consensus as to which furnishes the best information. This study sought to provide a critical overview of the different methods of attribution of mortality due to tobacco consumption.

Method

A search was made in the Medline database until March 2005 in order to obtain papers that addressed the methodology employed for attributing mortality to tobacco use.

Results

Of the total of 7 methods obtained, the most widely used were the prevalence methods, followed by the approach proposed by Peto et al, with the remainder being used in a minority of studies.

Conclusion

Different methodologies are used to estimate tobacco attributable mortality, but their methodological foundations are quite similar in all. Mainly, they are based on the calculation of proportional attributable fractions. All methods show limitations of one type or another, sometimes common to all methods and sometimes specific.