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Smoking-related behaviors and household policies among parents of childhood cancer patients

Kimberly A. Kaphingst, ScD1, Rita M. Butterfield, PhD2, Karen M. Emmons, PhD2, and Frederick P. Li, MD1. (1) Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston, MA 02115, 617-632-2949, Kimberly_Kaphingst@dfci.harvard.edu, (2) Center for Community-Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston, MA 02115

Introduction: Treatments for childhood cancers place survivors at increased risk of second cancers and other adverse outcomes. It is therefore important to minimize preventable risk factors among this population. Parents of children with cancer who smoke may do so to cope with stress. Parents who smoke, however, expose their children to the effects of environmental tobacco smoke and increase the risk that their children will smoke.

Methods: We are surveying parents of childhood cancer patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to assess smoking-related behaviors and household policies related to tobacco, as well as social support, distress, and coping. Participants are English-speaking parents of children currently being treated or within one year of ending treatment who complete written questionnaires.

Results: Preliminary results from 131 parents show that at least one parent is a current smoker in 18% of households. In almost half of such households (43%), there are multiple smokers. Smoking is allowed in the home in 39% of households with at least one smoking parent. Parents perceive their children’s cancer diagnosis as a serious health threat (mean score 7.9 on 0-10 scale) and are very worried about their children’s future health (mean score 8.5 on 0-10 scale).

Discussion: These data indicate that interventions are needed for smoking parents of children with cancer to help parents quit smoking and reduce the exposure of children to environmental tobacco smoke. Such interventions could contribute to reducing tobacco-related cancers and other diseases among childhood cancer patients and survivors and their families.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Cancer, Smoking

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