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Center for Health Promotion and Evaluation
Leslie Robinson

Leslie A. Robinson, Ph.D. (Director)
Associate Professor
Psychology Building, Room 334

901.678.1667 (telephone)

901.678.2579 (fax)

Summary of Grants

Parents Actively Controlling Tobacco (PACT)

A substantial proportion of children obtain their first cigarettes from family members without the adult’s knowledge.  Our research has shown that among adolescent smokers, nearly 31% had stolen cigarettes from a family member, with 13.2% stealing from their mother, 7.7% stealing from their father, and 11.5% stealing from their siblings (Robinson, Dalton, & Nicholson, 2006).  These findings extend the work of other authors, who also found that adolescents frequently report getting their first cigarettes at home (DiFranza & Coleman, 2001).

Despite this research, no previous study has developed and evaluated a program designed to encourage parents to control their tobacco products.  A logical point of intervention lies in physicians’ practices, because 90% of children see a health care professional each year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).  Research has shown that physician- administered interventions are effective at reducing tobacco use directly among adolescents (Hum, Robinson, Jackson, & Ali, 2011; Shelley et al., 2000), reducing environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure among children (Hovell, Zakarian, Wahlgren, & Matt, 2000), and reducing parental smoking (Winickoff, 2005).  Notably, even parents who smoke support pediatricians’ efforts to reduce smoking among children, and adult smokers are more amenable to discussions regarding smoking than physicians believe they are (Moss, Cluss, Mesiano, & Kip, 2006).

Thus, this study was designed to:

(1) Develop, implement, and evaluate a program to train physicians to interact with parents who smoked about tobacco control using a motivational interviewing framework.

(2) Examine whether pediatricians’ knowledge about smoking, attitudes towards smoking, and other outcomes changed from baseline (prior to training program) to follow-up.

(3) Examine the efficacy of the physician intervention on parent outcomes by examining potential changes in the parents’ knowledge about teen smoking, attitudes toward it, and tobacco control behaviors.

Current status:

Data collection for this project is completed.  We are currently analyzing the data, and the initial analyses have been presented to the TN American Academy of Pediatrics.  Briefly, we found that parents significantly increased their tobacco control behaviors after the intervention.  In addition, parents tightened tobacco control for adults in their homes, and overall, children’s exposure to second-hand smoke was reduced.  We are currently in the process of writing up these results for conferences and manuscript.


Our lab has a number of large datasets available that were created through grant funding.  Each of these is briefly described below.  Manuscripts are being produced from each of these unique datasets.

Memphis Health Project (MHP)

The Memphis Health Project was a 10 year study of a cohort of approximately 7,000 7th graders recruited through the Memphis City Schools.  Each year students were asked to complete surveys assessing smoking status and background variables thought to promote smoking.  Thus, this project offers an exceptionally large dataset with a wide range of variables on both African American and Caucasian youth.

Memphis Smoking Prevention Program

The Memphis Smoking Prevention Program involved randomizing the entire 7th grade of the Memphis City Schools either to receive tobacco prevention programming or to continue typical programming.  The intervention was offered for one week each year for five years as the treatment group advanced through school, with the prevention program changing to match the advancing developmental age of the children.  Baseline comparisons of treatment and control conditions have been published, indicating significant benefits of the program.  However, the database could support considerable continued analysis.

Start to Stop

Conducted in collaboration with Dr. Robert Klesges, this study represented one of the first cessation programs developed specifically for young smokers.  Despite our best efforts, results did not reveal significant benefits of intervention on quit rates—a finding that has been common among studies aiming to help teens quit.  Further research could be conducted with this complex database.

Adolescent Cessation and Evaluation Study

Why don’t teens who smoke respond well to cessation programs?  The purpose of this study was to determine which components of cessation programs are most acceptable to adolescent smokers.  This study presented young smokers with various brief components usually included in cessation programs, gathering data on how they viewed each component.  In addition, we tracked quit attempts made by this cohort as they moved though the program.  Data analysis on this project is still active.

Leslie Robinson, Ph.D., Director
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Last Updated: 8/30/12