A Qualitative Study of Smoking Cessation Experiences and Perceptions Among Homeless Young Adult

Published in: Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless [Epub September 2017]. doi: 10.1080/10530789.2017.1377959

Posted on RAND.org on October 10, 2017

by Leslie Mullins, Claire E. O'Hanlon, William G. Shadel, Joan S. Tucker

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Up to 70% of homeless youth smoke, but there is little information available on their smoking cessation experiences and perceptions to guide cessation intervention efforts. This study examined reasons for quitting smoking, previous experiences quitting smoking, and preferences for smoking cessation programs among homeless young adults. Four focus groups (N = 27) were conducted in centers serving homeless 18–25 year olds in Los Angeles. Sessions were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by a systematic procedure for qualitative analysis to identify key themes on the topics of interest. The short-term health-related consequences of smoking and high cost of cigarettes were the main reasons participants indicated for quitting or wanting to quit. In terms of barriers to quitting, exposure to peers who smoke and smoking to cope with the daily stressors of homelessness were the two most salient themes. Suggested features of a smoking cessation program for homeless youth included having a group-based component to provide support, offering incentives to attend, and using "scare tactics" as a tool to increase motivation to quit. To increase acceptability and uptake, smoking cessation programs for homeless youth need to focus on the short-term consequences of smoking and harness of the power of peer influences.

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