Motivation to Quit and Interest in Cessation Treatment Among Homeless Youth Smokers

Published in: Nicotine & Tobacco Research, v. 8, Aug. 2015, p. 990-995

Posted on RAND.org on July 24, 2015

by Joan S. Tucker, William G. Shadel, Daniela Golinelli, Brett Ewing, Leslie Mullins

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INTRODUCTION: Approximately 70% of unaccompanied homeless youth are current smokers. Although a few studies have described smoking behavior among homeless youth, none have focused on how to help homeless youth quit smoking. As such, there are significant gaps in understanding their interest in quitting and what strategies might best fit their specific needs. METHODS: Unaccompanied homeless youth were randomly sampled from street sites in Los Angeles County (N = 292). All were current smokers who completed a survey on their smoking-related behaviors and cognitions. RESULTS: 65.7% of youth had quit for at least 24hr during the past year, and 43.4% were motivated to quit. Previous quit attempts tended to be unassisted, but 58.6% reported that they would be interested in formal cessation treatment. Multivariate analyses indicated that motivation to quit was higher among youth who were older, Black or Hispanic (vs. White), and who asked about smoking by a service provider, but it was lower among those who were more nicotine dependent. Being interested in cessation treatment was more likely among youth who were asked about smoking by a service provider, anticipated more barriers to quitting, and were motivated to quit; it was less likely among youth who had slept outdoors during the past 30 days. DISCUSSION: Smoking cessation is often considered a low priority for homeless youth. However, many are motivated to quit and are interested in smoking cessation products and services. Implications for developing and engaging homeless youth in cessation treatment are discussed.

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