University of Vermont

Office of Health Promotion Research

OHPR Abstract 45

Abstract 1990-1999

Flynn BS, Worden JK, Secker-Walker RH, Pirie PL, Badger GJ, Carpenter JH. Long-term responses of higher and lower risk youths to smoking prevention interventions. Prev Med. 1997 May-Jun;26(3):389-94.

BACKGROUND: Adolescents at risk for cigarette smoking are difficult to reach with conventional interventions but have substantial exposure to the mass media. This study is the first to show that smoking prevention messages presented through the mass media can have large and durable effects on higher risk adolescents. METHODS: Students in two communities received media and school interventions beginning in grades 5-7; those in matched comparison communities received school interventions. Media interventions were targeted to higher risk youths. School surveys were conducted before and after the interventions, in grades 4-6 and grades 8-10. Two years after interventions ended, when participants were in grades 10-12, school and telephone surveys were conducted to assess smoking status. Survey participants (n = 2,860) were classified at baseline as having higher or lower risk for becoming a smoker. RESULTS: Smoking prevalence within the higher risk sample was significantly lower for those receiving media-school interventions than for those receiving school interventions only (odds ratio = 0.71). Effects on the lower risk sample were similar in magnitude but marginally significant. CONCLUSIONS: Mass media and school interventions achieved lower smoking rates among higher risk youngsters 2 years following completion of the interventions. This strategy represents a uniquely effective method for communicating with a high-priority group.

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