How do adolescent smoking prevention interventions work in different contextual settings? A qualitative comparative study between the UK and Colombia

Sharon Sánchez-Franco, Shannon C. Montgomery, Erika S. Torres‑Narvaez, Ana M. Ramírez, Jennifer M. Murray, Christopher Tate, Blanca Llorente, Linda Bauld, Ruth F. Hunter, Frank Kee, Olga L. Sarmiento*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Adolescent smoking is associated with significant health and social risks. Previous research has demonstrated the effectiveness of interventions based on behavior change theories in preventing adolescent smoking uptake. However, evidence from the theory-based perspective of evaluation is limited, especially for how such complex interventions work, and how they work when implemented in different contextual settings.

A comparative qualitative analysis was conducted to explore various influences on behavior change among participants taking part in two smoking prevention interventions in Northern Ireland and Bogotá. Twenty-seven focus groups were conducted in 12 schools (6 in Northern Ireland and 6 in Bogota, n = 195 pupils participated; aged 11–15 years). The Theoretical Domains Framework guided a content analysis of the data.

We found similarities across settings in terms of knowledge, skills, and beliefs related to smoking or vaping behavior change, as well as differences in contextual resources and social influence. Different environmental resources included availability to purchase tobacco products in the neighborhoods and previous information about tobacco risk. Participants in both interventions perceived behavioral change outcomes related to personal skills and intention to not smoke or vape.

These findings have highlighted how both individual factors and contextual resources influence behavior change for smoking prevention in practice. Local contextual factors and social influences affecting pupils should be taken into account in the implementation and evaluation of health behavior change interventions. In particular, this study supports using social and contextual influence strategies in interventions to reduce the onset of adolescent smoking and vaping.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Early online date11 Sept 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 11 Sept 2023


  • Smoking prevention
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Behavior change
  • Health interventions
  • Adolescent health


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