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Soc Sci Med. 2006 Apr;62(7):1810-8. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Normative processes and adolescents' smoking behaviour in Norway: a multilevel analysis.

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Research Centre for Health Promotion, University of Bergen, Christiesgt. 13, 5015-Bergen, Norway.


Currently, smoking prevalence is still high among adolescents. This is of major concern for public health organizations. Factors that influence adolescent smoking behaviour need to be identified and addressed. Research in this area has identified attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control as some of the contributing factors, but subjective norms have often been the weakest predictor of smoking behaviour. This could be due to inadequate measurement. The current paper suggests that examining different types of norms and their relationship with smoking behaviour could help increase the contribution of norms. The paper set out to identify other normative concepts, such as the subjective estimate of smoking prevalence, and descriptive and desired societal norms that are not captured by subjective norms but that could be related to adolescents' smoking behaviour. Data were collected from 15-year-old students from Norway (n = 1670 in 89 grade 10 school classes). Multilevel logistic regression analysis was used to determine how the various concepts of norms relate to each other and their relationship with adolescent smoking behaviour. The findings of the study showed that an individual's opinion of societal norms, and the expectations of significant others as well as their behaviour all seem significantly related to adolescent smoking behaviour, either as an individual or as a school class predictor. Hence, rather than playing down the role of norms, the addition of a subjective estimate of smoking prevalence, and descriptive and desired societal norms could extend the normative concept as well as increase its predictive power. Future intervention could address different types of norms as well as the effect of shared context to help prevent adolescents from smoking.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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