Objective: This study tests the effectiveness of narrative versus informational smoking education on smoking beliefs, attitudes and intentions of low-educated adolescents.
Design: A field experiment with three waves of data collection was conducted. Participants (N = 256) were students who attend lower secondary education. At the first and third waves, they completed a questionnaire. At the second wave, 50.8% of the participants read a smoking education booklet in narrative form and 49.2% read a booklet in informational form. After reading, all participants also completed a questionnaire at wave 2.
Main outcome measures: Beliefs about negative consequences of smoking, attitudes towards smoking and intentions to smoke were measured.
Results: Repeated measures analyses with time as a within-subjects factor and condition as a between-subjects factor showed that beliefs about smoking were more negative at Wave 2 compared to Wave 1, irrespective of condition. However, attitudes towards smoking were more positive at Wave 3 compared to Wave 1 when participants had read the narrative version.
Conclusion: These results show that narrative smoking education is not more effective than informational smoking education for low-educated adolescents and can even have an unintended effect for this target group by making attitudes towards smoking more positive.
Keywords: school-based health education, narrative, smoking prevention
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