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Health, Stigma, and the Burden of Smoking in College: A Thematic Analysis

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Objectives: Authorities estimate that 16.7% of adults 18-24 smoke, and many initiate or increase cigarette smoking while in college. Thus, college represents a critical time for intervention. Simmons et al developed and tested an interactive Web-based intervention that includes a component for inducing dissonance through creating video testimonials about the negatives of smoking. Methods: We applied thematic analysis to video content to identify smoking's negative consequences as reflected in testimonials from 78 college smokers. We identified common themes and calculated the amount of time spent discussing each theme and the strength of language used. Results: Social stigma and health consequences of smoking emerged as multidimensional themes; other common topics included financial burden, chemicals in cigarettes, and cravings/addiction. Conclusions: These results provide insight into the attitudes of college student smokers. Addressing these topics may be important for message development in intervention and prevention studies.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinical Psychology doctoral student, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL;, Email: [email protected] 2: Clinical Psychology doctoral student, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 3: Assistant Professor, Addiction Sciences Division, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 4: Department Chair and Program Leader, Health Outcomes and Behaviors, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL 5: Associate Member, Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, FL

Publication date: May 1, 2016

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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