How adolescents experience smoking cessation

Kristine L.S.P. McVea, Dana L. Miller, John W. Creswell, Rob McEntarrfer, Marta J. Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In this study we develop a model of how youth experience smoking cessation attempts. We followed 15 adolescent smokers twice monthly over three months. Through six semistructured interviews, we explored participants' subjective experiences of making a "quit" attempt. We analyzed transcript data using grounded theory procedures, beginning with open coding, axial coding, construction of matrices, and development of a preliminary theory or model of this phenomenon. We found that only emotionally compelling and inescapable quit reasons were truly motivating. Few parents actively supported their child during quit attempts; smoking friends and other peers undermined them. All successful quitters established new, nonsmoking friends and completely redefined themselves. The quit experience was physically uncomfortable, emotionally distressful, and socially isolating. Greater motivation, mature problem-solving skills, and a willingness to supplant their smoking friends characterized successful quitters. Further research is needed to test this model's efficacy in the adolescent population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-592
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009


  • Adolescents
  • Behavior
  • Change
  • High-risk behaviors
  • Smoking cessation
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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