Open Access Open Badges Research article

Longitudinal impact of a youth tobacco education program

Martin C Mahoney13*, Joseph E Bauer3, Laurene Tumiel1, Sarah McMullen2, Jeff Schieder1 and Denise Pikuzinski1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, New York 14215 USA

2 American Academy of Family Physicians 11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway Leawood, KS 66211 USA

3 Roswell Park Cancer Institute Elm & Carlton Streets Buffalo, NY 14263 USA

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BMC Family Practice 2002, 3:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-3-3

Published: 19 February 2002



Information on the effectiveness of elementary school level, tobacco-use prevention programs is generally limited. This study assessed the impact of a structured, one-time intervention that was designed to modify attitudes and knowledge about tobacco. Participants were fifth-grade students from schools in western New York State.


Twenty-eight schools, which were in relatively close geographic proximity, were randomized into three groups; Group 1 was used to assess whether attitudes/knowledge were changed in the hypothesized direction by the intervention, and if those changes were retained four months later. Groups 2 and 3, were used as comparison groups to assess possible test-retest bias and historical effects. Groups 1 and 3 were pooled to assess whether attitudes/knowledge were changed by the intervention as measured by an immediate post-test. The non-parametric analytical techniques of Wilcoxon-Matched Pairs/Sign Ranks and the Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon Rank Sums Tests were used to compare proportions of correct responses at each of the schools.


Pooled analyses showed that short-term retention on most items was achieved. It was also found that retention on two knowledge items 'recognition that smokers have yellow teeth and fingers' and 'smoking one pack of cigarettes a day costs several hundred dollars per year' was maintained for four months.


The findings suggest that inexpensive, one-time interventions for tobacco-use prevention can be of value. Changes in attitudes and knowledge conducive to the goal of tobacco-use prevention can be achieved for short-term retention and some relevant knowledge items can be retained for several months.