Exploring perceptions of smoking cessation among high school smokers: input and feedback from focus groups

Prev Med. Sep-Oct 1998;27(5 Pt 3):A55-63. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0382.


Background: Despite many approaches to smoking cessation for youths, few programs have been thoroughly evaluated and found successful. To help the American Medical Association develop, implement, and evaluate an effective program, formative research was conducted.

Methods: Four focus groups were conducted with high school smokers in the Chicago area to obtain input into interventions. Subsequently, five similar focus groups were conducted in Delaware and Denver, and a focus group of school health providers was conducted as well, to obtain feedback on a draft protocol and ideas.

Results: Participants did not consider quitting smoking serious or urgent. They are unfamiliar with the idea of a smoking cessation program. People they would trust to help them quit include people who care about them, successful quitters, and psychologists. They had mixed reactions to physicians. They did not trust school personnel and locations. Participants found it hard to imagine what might draw them to a cessation program, except money, small enticements, and short sessions. They might keep coming to progress toward their own objectives or for interesting activities. Lecturing, nagging, and preaching would repel them. They doubted that a program would do anything else. They were highly sensitive about confidentiality.

Conclusions: Attracting participants is critical. Program component ideas include personal physicians; adding other topics for a more attractive bundle; ensuring confidentiality; and ensuring no lecturing, preaching, or nagging.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chicago
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Planning
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking Cessation* / psychology
  • Smoking Prevention