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Health Educ Res. 2010 Oct;25(5):792-802. doi: 10.1093/her/cyq033. Epub 2010 Jun 2.

Intention to quit smoking: role of personal and family member cancer diagnosis.

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  • 1Center for Health Behavior Research, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 802 Blockley Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Individuals who have ever experienced a cancer diagnosis and their family members may be priority audiences for health improving interventions. Guided by the heuristic model of the 'teachable moment' and using data from the 2003 National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Survey, we explored whether having a lifetime history of cancer or having a family member with a lifetime history of cancer was associated with intention to quit smoking. Results showed that having a personal lifetime history of cancer was not associated with intention to quit, while having a family member with a lifetime history of cancer was (χ(2) = 7.08, P < 0.01). Path analysis showed that individual perceived risk of cancer mediated the relationship between having a family member with a history of cancer and quitting intention: smokers who had a family member with a history of cancer in addition to an elevated level of perceived cancer risk were 36% more likely to report intending to quit. These preliminary data suggest that family members of cancer patients may be a viable target population for smoking cessation interventions, especially when they have heightened levels of perceived cancer risk. An adequately powered, controlled trial is needed to fully evaluate this hypothesis.

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