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J Pediatr Psychol. 2005 Jun;30(4):359-70. Epub 2005 Feb 23.

A comparison of tobacco-related risk factors between adolescents with and without cancer.

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  • 1Division of Behavioral Medicine, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 332 North Lauderdale, Memphis, TN 38105-2794, USA.



To compare adolescents with and without cancer on current smoking status, intentions to smoke, and tobacco-related risk factors.


Ninety adolescents undergoing treatment for cancer (median time since diagnosis was 2.4 months) and a comparison sample of 279 adolescents without cancer, ages 12 to 18 years, completed questionnaires that asked about their smoking habits, intentions to smoke, and tobacco-related psychosocial risk factors.


Approximately 2% of adolescents with cancer and 22% of adolescents without cancer reported current smoking. Compared to nonsmoking adolescents without cancer, nonsmoking adolescents with cancer were one third less likely to report intentions to smoke. No significant interactions were detected between group (having cancer or not) and each of the tobacco-specific and psychosocial variables tested in two separate multivariable models. Intentions to smoke were best predicted by variables most proximal to smoking. Adolescents who smoked in the past and who had lower tobacco knowledge and greater perceived instrumental value were more likely to report intentions to smoke. Adolescents who were less optimistic were also more likely to intend to smoke.


Tobacco-related risk factors for intentions to smoke appeared to be similar among adolescents with and without cancer. Implications of these findings for tobacco control among adolescents with cancer are discussed.

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