Oct 20 Counseling sessions with a school nurse
may help some high school students, especially boys, quit
smoking -- but only for a little while, according to a U.S.
Researchers, who studied about 1,000 teens who said they
wanted to quit smoking, wrote in the journal Pediatrics that
close to 11 percent of those who got counseling for three months
had quit smoking, compared to six percent of those who only
received educational pamphlets.
"A school nurse-delivered smoking-cessation intervention
proved feasible and effective in improving short-term abstinence
among adolescent boys and short-term reductions in smoking
amount and frequency in both genders," wrote study author Lori
Pbert of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in
But a year after the sessions, there was no difference in
smoking rates based on what kind of assistance teens had gotten
from their nurses. In addition, fewer than one in five teens
said they hadn't smoked recently.
"It's nice that there was some effect at three months, what
we really care about is sustained cessation," said Michael
Siegel, who studies tobacco control at the Boston University
School of Public health but wasn't involved in the study.
"The overwhelming majority of these kids are not quitting."
In the 35 Massachusetts schools covered in the study, half
the nurses were trained to give their students one-on-one
counseling based around goal setting and problem solving,
including making a plan to quit and then preventing relapses.
The other nurses gave students information pamphlets on
quitting smoking and volunteered to answer any questions they
had about the process. Both groups of nurses saw their students
at four weekly sessions, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes.
The counseling intervention appeared to especially help boys
in the short run. Those who had made goals and tracked progress
with the nurses were three times more likely to say they had
stopped smoking than boys in the "control" group.
But between 13 and 17 percent of both boys and girls
reported they had stopped lighting up a year later, regardless
of whether or not they had received counseling.
Other smoking cessation experts noted that relapsing into
smoking is the biggest hurdle at any age, and that teens were
especially likely to do so. But they added that the more options
teens had for help, the better.
(Reporting from New York by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health;
editing by Elaine Lies)