Targeted smoking cessation messages for adolescents

Amy E Latimer, Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Dana A Cavallo, Amy Duhig, Peter Salovey, Stephanie A O'Malley
Journal of Adolescent Health 2012, 50 (1): 47-53

PURPOSE: To develop and to conduct a preliminary evaluation of smoking cessation messages targeted for adolescents.

METHOD: We (a) conducted a formative evaluation to identify the optimal content and presentation approach for adolescent-targeted smoking cessation messages, (b) developed two smoking cessation videos catering to adolescent smokers' message preferences, and (c) copy tested the videos to determine the optimal message frame (gain vs. loss) using a quasi-experimental crossover design.

RESULTS: In the formative evaluation, adolescent smokers preferred peer-delivered cessation messages that emphasized long-term health consequences and some social and short-term health consequences of smoking. The information from the formative evaluation was used to create a gain- (emphasized the benefits of quitting and joining a smoking cessation program) and a loss-framed video (emphasized the cost of continuing to smoke and consequences of failing to join a smoking cessation program). The copy test of the videos indicated that adolescents found the messages clear and appealing. The gain-framed message was considered more novel than the loss-framed message and was preferred by most participants. Nonetheless, the loss-framed version resulted in more positive attitudes toward quitting than the gain-framed version.

CONCLUSION: Little is known about how to construct effective smoking cessation messages tailored specifically for adolescent smokers. The study findings provide insight into adolescents' preferences for message content and presentation. Although considered less novel, providing loss-framed information may be most influential among adolescents. These findings have important implications for developing effective adolescent-targeted smoking cessation messages.

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