Learning Objectives: Identify perceptions of health risk and measures of resiliency to tobacco initiation in elementary & early middle school years.
Abstract: Children’s tobacco use is a major public health problem, and the age of initiation of the risky health behavior is dramatically younger in certain populations. Finding key risk factors for these differential responses, while testing that patterns of resiliency to tobacco use develop prior to use, were critical research components. The examination of resiliency patterns in response to environmental pressures to initiate tobacco use, as differential resiliency patterns to environmental stressors can be seen, was also pertinent. Similar differences can be seen in children’s responses to their own health risk perceptions.
First wave results of this longitudinal, repeated measures study of elementary and middle school child cohorts are presented. A school-based survey was administered to sample populations, predominantly selected from the “tobacco-friendly” environment of North Carolina, compared with a strong anti-tobacco California sample. Important parental demographic and tobacco use data were also gathered. Children’s tobacco initiation rate is important for surveillance and accurately focused prevention. Previous research focused on adolescence and early adulthood, not the years prior to initiation, leading to a lack of empirical information regarding health-compromising decisions made earlier, and the relationship to initiation. Public health dollars have not traditionally been earmarked for prevention, nor specifically tied to school-aged children’s tobacco use prevention policy. Examining patterns of resiliency in response to environmental pressures to initiate tobacco use, allows empirically based policy decisions on use of tobacco funds. These data can be utilized by education and health officials to develop the most effective interventions for the limited prevention dollar.
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