Application of the protection motivation theory in predicting cigarette smoking among adolescents in China

Addict Behav. 2014 Jan;39(1):181-8. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.09.027. Epub 2013 Oct 2.


Reducing tobacco use among adolescents in China represents a significant challenge for global tobacco control. Existing behavioral theories developed in the West - such as the Protection Motivation Theory (PMT) - may be useful tools to help tackle this challenge. We examined the relationships between PMT factors and self-reported cigarette smoking behavior and intention among a random sample of vocational high school students (N=553) in Wuhan, China. Tobacco-related perceptions were assessed using the PMT Scale for Adolescent Smoking. Among the total sample, 45% had initiated cigarette smoking, and 25% smoked in the past month. Among those who never smoked, 15% indicated being likely or very likely to smoke in a year. Multiple regression modeling analysis indicated the significance of the seven PMT constructs, the four PMT perceptions and the two PMT pathways in predicting intention to smoke and actual smoking behavior. Overall, perceived rewards of smoking, especially intrinsic rewards, were consistently positively related to smoking intentions and behavior, and self-efficacy to avoid smoking was negatively related to smoking. The current study suggests the utility of PMT for further research examining adolescent smoking. PMT-based smoking prevention and clinical smoking cessation intervention programs should focus more on adolescents' perceived rewards from smoking and perceived efficacy of not smoking to reduce their intention to and actual use of tobacco.

Keywords: Adolescents; China; Cigarette smoking; Protection Motivation Theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*