Quitters Wanted: Study Determines Why Pregnant Women Stop Smoking

    • January 1, 1998

During 1996 and 1997, investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education examined why Medicaid-insured pregnant smokers change or do not change their smoking behavior after entering obstetrical care.

In the study, investigators conducted a secondary analysis of a subset of data from the Smoking and Pregnancy Birmingham Trial II in Alabama, a landmark study that evaluated the efficacy and cost benefit of a health education program for pregnant smokers, to test a prediction model for smoking behavior change.

Key Findings

  • The investigators found that:

    • Variables predictive of change in smoking behavior included:
      • A woman's level of addiction (those who were lighter smokers and had smoked less than five years were more likely to quit).
      • A woman's sense of self-efficacy (perceived ability to quit for 24 hours).
      • Whether a woman lived with a smoker.
    • Demographic characteristics (mother's age, fetal gestational age at entry into prenatal care, race/ethnic group, marital status and education) were not related to predicting change in smoking behavior during pregnancy. In addition, weight control was not predictive of quitting smoking, nor was the encouragement a woman received from friends and family to stop smoking while pregnant.
    • The health education intervention provided to the patients was confirmed as efficacious, with significantly more quitters than in the control group.
    • This study thus provided further evidence that counseling, self-help materials, skills training, and professional/social support help to enable women to quit smoking during pregnancy.