Host-agent-vector-environment measures for electronic cigarette research used in NIH grants.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study is to describe the focus and comprehensiveness of domains measured in e-cigarette research.

METHODS

A portfolio analysis of National Institutes of Health grants focusing on e-cigarette research and funded between the fiscal years 2007 and 2015 was conducted. Grant proposals were retrieved using a government database and coded using the Host-Agent-Vector-Environment (HAVE) model as a framework to characterise the measures proposed. Eighty-one projects met the criteria for inclusion in the analysis.

RESULTS

The primary HAVE focus most commonly found was Host (73%), followed by Agent (21%), Vector (6%) and Environment (0%). Intrapersonal measures and use trajectories were the most common measures in studies that include Host measures (n=59 and n=51, respectively). Product composition was the most common area of measurement in Agent studies (n=24), whereas Marketing (n=21) was the most common (n=21) area of Vector measurement. When Environment measures were examined as secondary measures in studies, they primarily focused on measuring Peer, Occupation and Social Networks (n=18). Although all studies mentioned research on e-cigarettes, most (n=52; 64%) did not specify the type of e-cigarette device or liquid solution under study.

CONCLUSIONS

This analysis revealed a heavy focus on Host measures (73%) and a lack of focus on Environment measures. The predominant focus on Host measures may have the unintended effect of limiting the evidence base for tobacco control and regulatory science. Further, a lack of specificity about the e-cigarette product under study will make comparing results across studies and using the outcomes to inform tobacco policy difficult.

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