Adolescent girls' perceptions of smoking risk and protective factors: Implications for message design

Barbara Curbow, Janice Bowie, Joann Binko, Stephanie Smith, Erin Dreyling, Karen A. McDonnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a snowball technique, in-depth interviews were conducted with 108 girls emanating from seven demographically dissimilar social networks. Girls were asked to classify 58 items as either a risk or protective factor for smoking initiation and then to assign an importance weighting to each. All items except one (worries about her weight) were clearly categorized as risk or protective; mean levels of agreement were 80.8% for perceived risk items and 92.6% for perceived protective items. Principal components analysis (PCA) of the weights given to the perceived risk items found that 28 items loaded on seven factors (social, affect, access, media, offers, family, and image) and explained 71.26% of the variance. PCA of 25 protective items revealed four factors (health, family, looks, and barriers) that explained 73.35% of the variance. Significant group differences on the importance weights were found, primarily by school (public or private), age (12-14 years or 15-16 years), having a friend who smokes (yes or no), and having tried smoking (yes or no). These group differences support the idea of having a broader array of antismoking messages for adolescent girls so that important subgroups can be targeted. Additional results support the position of developing antismoking messages with positive, affirming themes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 3 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Beliefs
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Girls
  • Risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Psychology(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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