For Teen Smokers, Supportive vs. In-Your-Face Advice to Quit Yields Same Results

Motivational interviewing for adolescent smokers in an emergency department

From 1997 through 1999, researchers at the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Providence, R.I., carried out a pilot study to examine the efficacy of a motivational interviewing intervention for adolescent smokers.

Adolescents were randomly assigned to either the motivational interviewing intervention or a brief advice intervention. The 45-minute motivational interviewing intervention used a no confrontational approach that gave the adolescents personalized feedback on the physical, social, and economic effects of their smoking.

Adolescents who received the five-minute brief advice intervention were given firm advice to quit smoking as soon as possible and provided self-help materials.

Key Findings

  • Preliminary results found that teens that received the motivational interview were no more likely to quit than teens who received just brief advice.

  • The investigators found that more motivated teens were more likely to try to quit regardless of the intervention they received, and that the motivational interview may encourage adolescents to be more honest about their smoking.

  • The investigators suggested that the intervention may have failed to yield results because it only targeted daily smokers (rather than sporadic smokers), and there were not sufficient follow-up or resources in the community to support adolescents interested in quitting.

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