Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Identifying Gender Differences among Romanian Non-Smoking Junior High School Students

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Identifying Gender Differences among Romanian Non-Smoking Junior High School Students

Article excerpt

SUMMARY

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess gender differences regarding perceptions of smoking between Romanian non-smoking boys and girls, to facilitate the development of effective smoking prevention programmes.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were obtained in 2006 by means of written questionnaires among 981 non-smoking school students aged 13-14 years from Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Results: The results reveal that girls were more convinced than boys that smoking would result in several positive outcomes such as helping them getting more attention and becoming easier part of the crowd. Moreover, girls declared lower self-efficacy in refraining from smoking when friends smoke or offer them a cigarette. Parental norms regarding smoking seem to be less restrictive for boys than for girls.

Conclusions: The gender differences found in our study do not warrant specific smoking prevention programmes for boys and girls, but it is advisable to include gender-specific issues in prevention activities targeting Romanian adolescents aged 13-14 years.

Key words: smoking related attitudes, gender differences, Romanian non-smoking adolescents

INTRODUCTION

Smoking is a major preventable cause of premature death and disability throughout the world. In Romania, smoking is responsible for more than 32,000 deaths annually (1).

There are two ways how to decrease morbidity and mortality from smoking related diseases. The first method is to help people not to start smoking and the target population is represented by children and young people, because about 80% of smoking people became smokers before they were 18 years old; the second method refers to decrease of the number of smokers by using several smoking cessation methods (1, 2, 3).

Several Eastern European countries including Romania are now at the stage three of the tobacco epidemic, with smoking prevalence among men peaking or just beginning to decline, and smoking prevalence among women still increasing (1).

The European School Project on alcohol, tobacco, and drug use (ESPAD) carried out in 30 European countries showed that in 2003 64% of the 16 years old Romanian school students reported smoking at least once during their lifetime, while the prevalence of smoking in the last month was 29%. Both lifetime smoking and smoking in the last month were more frequent among boys (70%, respectively 32%) than girls (59%, respectively 26%) (2).

Understanding the psychosocial determinants of smoking is one of the first crucial analyses that should be undertaken in order to understand which specific beliefs should be addressed within intervention programmes in Romania. Moreover, knowledge of potential differences between boys and girls with respect to smoking related attitudes and behaviour is also important if we wish to develop smoking prevention programmes that are effectively tailored to the two gender groups (3-5).

In Romania, a recent study focused on gender differences regarding smoking related beliefs of adolescents aged 15-17 years (6), but no information is known with respect to this issue among younger Romanian adolescents. Hence, the goal of this study is to assess the differences in perceptions about smoking among the Romanian non-smoking boys and girls 13-14 years old.

MATERIALSAND METHODS

Design and Sample

The study involved 20 schools from Cluj-Napoca, a city with approximately 330,000 inhabitants situated in the North West part of Romania. The consent for participation was obtained from the school principals, who also offered the number of the 7th grade classes which could participate. The study included junior high school students from 55 7th grade classes.

Cross-sectional data were obtained in January 2006 by means of written questionnaires. No refusals were recorded; nonresponse was exclusively due to absence at the day of assessment.

Procedure

The research team administered the questionnaires. …

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