Comparison of ecological momentary assessment versus direct measurement of E-cigarette use with a bluetooth-enabled E-cigarette:a pilot study

Jennifer L. Pearson, Hoda Elmasry, Babita Das, Sabrina L. Smiley, Leslie F. Rubin, Teresa DeAtley, Emily Harvey, Yitong Zhou, Raymond Niaura, David B. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Assessing the frequency and intensity of e-cigarette use presents special challenges beyond those posed by cigarette use. Accurate measurement of e-cigarette consumption, puff duration, and the stability of these measures over time will be informative for estimating the behavioral and health effects of e-cigarette use. Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to compare the accuracy of self-reported e-cigarette puff counts collected via ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to objective puff count data collected by a Bluetooth-enabled e-cigarette device and to examine the feasibility and acceptability of using a second-generation e-cigarette among adult smokers. Methods: A total of 5 adult smokers were enrolled in a longitudinal parent study assessing how e-cigarette use affects cigarette use among e-cigarette-naïve smokers. Using a text message-based EMA system, participants reported e-cigarette puffs for 2 weeks. Participants were also given a Bluetooth-enabled e-cigarette (Smokio) that passively collected puff counts and puff duration. Comparisons between mean reports of Smokio (device-report) and EMA (self-report) use were evaluated using paired t tests. Correlation and agreement between device- and self-reports were evaluated using Pearson correlation and the concordance correlation coefficient (CCC), respectively. A linear mixed effect model was used to determine the fixed effect of timing and Smokio-reported daily puffs on report accuracy. We examined the relationship between time of day and reporting accuracy using Tukey's test for multiple pairwise comparisons. Results: A total of 5 African American participants, 4 men and 1 woman, who ranged in age from 24 to 59 years completed the study, resulting in 5180 observations (device-report) of e-cigarette use. At baseline, participants reported smoking for 5 to 25 years and consumed a mean of 7 to 13 cigarettes per day (CPD); 4 smoked within 30 minutes of waking. At the 30-day follow-up, CPD range decreased to 1 to 3 cigarettes; 4 participants reported past 7-day e-cigarette use, and 1 participant reported no cigarette smoking in the past 7 days. Over 2 weeks of e-cigarette use, participants took an average of 1074 e-cigarette (SD 779.0) puffs per person as captured by the device reports. Each participant took a mean of 75.0 (SD 58.8) puffs per day, with each puff lasting an average of 3.6 (SD 2.4) seconds. Device reports captured an average of 33.3 (SD 47.8) more puffs per person per day than the self-reported e-cigarette puffs. In 87% of days, participants underestimated the number of puffs they had taken on the Smokio. There was significant moderate correlation (r=.47, P<.001) but poor agreement (pc=0.31, 95% CI 0.15-0.46) between the deviceand self-reported data. Reporting accuracy was affected by amount and timing of e-cigarette use. Conclusions: Compared to self-reported e-cigarette use, the Bluetooth-enabled device captured significantly more e-cigarette use and allowed for examination of puff duration in addition to puff counts. A Bluetooth-enabled e-cigarette is a powerful and feasible tool for objective collection of e-cigarette use behavior in the real world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere84
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Humans
  • Observational study
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco products/utilization
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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