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Test of an Internet Virtual World for Teen Smoking Cessation

Susan I Woodruff, PhD1, Jim Crittenden2, Terry L. Conway, PhD1, Christine C. Edwards, MPH1, Sean P. Elliott1, and Joann Lee1. (1) Center for Behavioral and Community Health Studies, San Diego State University, 9245 Sky Park Court, Ste. 120, San Diego, CA 92123, (619) 594-2787, swoodruff@projects.sdsu.edu, (2) San Diego County Office of Education, 5404 Napa Street, San Diego, CA 92110

This 3-year collaborative study between San Diego State University (SDSU) and the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) is evaluating the effectiveness of Breathing Room, an Internet-based virtual reality world to promote smoking cessation among teen smokers. A rigorous two-group, repeated measures design is being used with teen smokers from 17 local high school sites that were randomly assigned to condition. Participants in the virtual reality world condition are exposed to a 7-session online intervention with a trained facilitator and other teen smokers using their school computer and Internet. The counselor uses motivational interviewing, a state-of-the-art counseling approach particularly appealing to teens. A second group serves as measurement-only controls. Four on-line survey assessments are conducted to evaluate effectiveness (baseline, immediately post-intervention, 3-month post-intervention, and 1-year post-intervention). Surveys collect self-reports of past-month and past-week smoking, information related to quit attempts, stage of change, and smoking-related attitudes. Preliminary analyses testing differential group change at the immediate post-intervention assessment show that the intervention has had a positive effect on self-reported past-week abstinence, and the frequency and number of cigarettes smoked during the past week. Final pre-post results will be presented, as well as preliminary results for the 3-month post-intervention assessment.

Learning Objectives:

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Alcohol and Tobacco: Public Education and Media Advocacy

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA