Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Are the Recommended Taxonomies for the Stages of Youth Smoking Onset Consistent with Youth's Perceptions of Their Smoking Status?

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Are the Recommended Taxonomies for the Stages of Youth Smoking Onset Consistent with Youth's Perceptions of Their Smoking Status?

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: To examine if the recommended taxonomies for the stages of youth smoking onset are aligned with the beliefs of smoking youth.

Methods: The SHAPES Tobacco Module was administered to 23,047 students (grades 9 to 13) in a convenience sample of 29 secondary schools during the 2000-2001 school year in the province of Ontario, Canada. Cross-tabs were used to compare a student's self-perceived smoking status to their smoking status as determined with the currently recommended stage taxonomies for smoking behaviour.

Results: The majority of students classified as regular smokers (52.4%) and experimental smokers (98.9%) did not actually consider themselves to be smokers. Self-reported smoking status appeared to be relatively consistent for the never smoker and established smoker categories.

Conclusions: Additional research is required to develop stage taxonomies that are aligned with the self-perceptions of non-established youth smokers.

MeSH terms: Smoking behavior; adolescent/youth; behavior taxonomy

A large body of empirical and theoretical research has demonstrated that youth progress through a series of behavioural stages during the process of becoming a smoker.' However, the taxonomies used to define these stages in the literature are not consistent across most studies.1,2 Although researchers generally agree upon what constitutes a never smoker or an established smoker, there is considerable variation in the definitions for the different types of non-established smokers.2

Mayhew and colleagues' recently reviewed quantitative studies of youth smoking onset that incorporated different smoking stage taxonomies. The purpose was to identify similarities and differences related to smoking behaviour across studies and make recommendations for future research. The results of their review highlighted factors related to smoking stage progression and made recommendations pertaining to smoking stage measurement that were largely based on smoking frequency and volume. Although such taxonomies may be conceptually relevant to researchers, it is not clear that they accurately represent the perceptions of smoking youth.2

Qualitative studies with youth have found that defining adolescent smoking by frequency or volume is not how adolescents conceptualize their smoking behaviour.2,3 For instance, some occasional smokers maintain their sporadic smoking behaviour for an extended period of time without progressing to established daily use.4^ Although the definitions outlined by Mayhew et al.' would classify these youth as established smokers, it is not clear that these youth would consider themselves to be smokers. If student perceptions are not aligned with the stage taxonomies used in research, interventions will be developed and targeted to youth who do not believe they are smokers, with the result that youth will be less apt to participate in the cessation programs being offered. Even the most effective programs will have limited impact unless they are widely used by youth.6

The purpose of this brief report was to examine if the stage taxonomies recommended by Mayhew and colleagues' are consistent with a global measure of how youth perceive their smoking behaviour.

METHODS

Design

This secondary analysis used cross-sectional data using the Tobacco Module of the School Health Action, Planning and Evaluation System (SHAPES), as described in an earlier report (the School Smoking Profile is now known as the SHAPES Tobacco Module)." The Tobacco Module is a machine-readable questionnaire that takes approximately 20 minutes to complete in-class, designed to measure tobacco use behaviour and potential determinants of tobacco use.

Procedure

The SHAPES Tobacco Module was administered to students (grades 9 to 13) from a convenience sample of 29 secondary schools during the 2000-2001 school year in the province of Ontario, Canada. …

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