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The influence of modeling and messaging on attitude toward smoking in non-smoking adolescent females Woods, Patricia Rose


Preventing smoking behavior among adolescent females is a significant concern in health promotion as females have many gender-specific health risks related to smoking. The development of a more positive attitude toward smoking is currently theorized as the first stage of smoking behavior. The study was conducted to examine whether social modeling factors, parental anti-smoking messaging, and the quality o f the relationship with parents are associated with attitude toward smoking in non-smoking adolescent females. Additionally, this study examined whether parental anti-smoking messaging and the quality of the relationship with parents influence the association between social modeling factors and attitude toward smoking. The research was guided by Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory of behavior. The study (N=1345) utilized a subset of data from non-smoking adolescent females surveyed in the British Columbia Youth Smoking Survey, a 2001/2002 cross-sectional, school-based study of adolescents from 13 schools in two regions of British Columbia. The social modeling factors included a smoking mother, father, sibling, boy/girl friend and best friend. The two parental anti-smoking messages included were "my parents won't allow me to smoke" and "my parents warned me about the dangers of smoking". Maternal closeness, paternal closeness and the Psychological Control Scale Youth Self Report (PCS-YSR) were used as measures of the quality of the relationship with parents. Descriptive results showed that the majority of the non-smoking females in this study did not live or have close social contact with smokers. If there was a smoker within the household, it was most likely to be the father. Hierarchical regression results indicated that social modeling factors in the form of smoking by the father, boy/girlfriend and best friend were significantly associated with positive attitude toward smoking in non-smoking adolescent females. However, only smoking by a boy/girlfriend remained significantly associated to positive attitude when the parental messages and the quality of the parental relationship were added to the regression model. Relating to parental messages, only half the adolescent females in the study indicated that the two parental anti-smoking messages were among the reasons why they did not currently smoke. Although both messages were associated with positive attitude toward smoking, the parental warning about the dangers of smoking was associated with a less positive attitude while the parents' not allowing smoking behavior was associated with a more positive attitude toward smoking. When the parental messages were included in the model, the effect of the father smoking became non-significant. Relating to the quality of the relationship with parents, parental control was significantly associated with positive attitude toward smoking while maternal and paternal closeness were not significantly associated. The findings from this study provide support for Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory as a basis for smoking prevention program but also highlight the need to include consideration of parental factors in designing smoking prevention programs. Interventions that rely on social modeling influences while ignoring parental anti-smoking messages and the quality of the parent-adolescent relationship as inter-related social factors may not be effective in decreasing the female adolescent smoking rate.

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