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1.  Sociodemographic Characteristics, Health Beliefs, and the Accuracy of Cancer Knowledge 
Journal of Cancer Education  2009;24(1):58-64.
Recent studies have found that knowledge about cancer prevention and treatment differs across ethnic and socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds, which could directly impact our decisions to engage in protective health behaviors. In this study, we examined sociodemographic-based differences in cancer knowledge and health beliefs and examined differences in the accuracy of the cancer knowledge based on health beliefs.
Cross-sectional surveys were conducted between July 1995 and March 2004 on adult, healthy, cancer-free control participants (N = 2074; 50% male) enrolled into a molecular epidemiological case-control study. Most were non-Hispanic white, 14% were African American, and 8% were Hispanic. Participants were personally interviewed on 6 items assessing health beliefs and 10 items assessing cancer knowledge.
Unadjusted differences in cancer knowledge were observed by gender, age, ethnicity, household income, educational attainment, and smoking status. After adjusting for the other sociodemographic characteristics, women had more accurate knowledge than men, the accuracy of knowledge increased with higher educational attainment and annual household income, and never smokers had more accurate knowledge than ever smokers (P < .01 for all). Moreover, accurate cancer knowledge was associated with protective health beliefs; eg, the belief that changing health habits was worthwhile was associated with more accurate knowledge.
Results emphasize the need to develop health education programs that enhance cancer knowledge among individuals of low SES and foster protective health beliefs.
PMCID: PMC3381329  PMID: 19259867
2.  Maternal current smoking: Concordance between adolescent proxy and mother’s self-report 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2009;11(8):1016-1019.
The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which adolescent reports on mother’s smoking status and mother’s self-reports on smoking are concordant with one another.
Mothers self-reported on their smoking at two timepoints (first query and second query), while the adolescents reported on their mother’s smoking status at one timepoint. Kappa values and percent exact agreement as well as sensitivity and specificity were calculated to examine the degree of agreement between child and mother’s reports at the two timepoints.
Overall, the results indicated good concordance between mothers’ self-reports and adolescent reports on smoking. Specifically, higher concordance was observed for mother’s first query compared with mother’s second query (Κ = 0.69 vs. Κ = 0.51). Younger adolescents and girls provided more concordant reports than older adolescents and boys.
The results indicate that adolescent reports on mothers’ smoking behavior can be used as a proxy to obtain data if mothers’ self-report data are not available. Our results further suggest that when reports are not collected concurrently, self-report data obtained from the mothers prior to the proxy report obtained from her adolescent may be more reliable than the other way around.
PMCID: PMC2711984  PMID: 19531668
3.  The influence of subjective social status on the relationship between positive outcome expectations and experimentation with cigarettes 
In Texas, Mexican American (MA) adolescents, and in particular boys, are at increased risk of experimenting with cigarettes compared to their black or white counterparts. Positive outcome expectations (POE), the functional social significance ascribed to cigarettes, and subjective social status (SSS), the adolescents’ subjective views of where they lie in the school-based social hierarchy, are independent predictors of smoking. The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that SSS moderates the relationship between POE and experimentation with cigarettes.
Moderating effects of SSS were examined using a between-subjects 2 by 2 ANOVA and unconditional logistic regression analyses. Using a prospective study design, we followed 1,142 MA adolescents aged 11 to 13. Participants completed a baseline survey at home, which assessed POE, SSS, and smoking and were followed via telephone at 6 monthly intervals over a 12 month period to assess changes in smoking behavior.
At follow-up, there were 99 new experimenters. Consistent with our hypothesis, adolescents who reported moderate-low SSS and who held POE at baseline were more likely to have experimented with cigarettes at either follow-up than their peers with moderate-low SSS who held less POE (OR=1.92, CI: 1.02–3.58). There was no association between outcome expectations and experimenting among adolescents with high SSS (OR=1.79, CI: 0.73–4.36). Low SSS boys were more likely to experiment than girls and high SSS boys.
The results of this study indicate that adolescents with moderate-low SSS hold different outcome expectations about smoking than their higher SSS peers. The results underscore the possibility that moderate-low SSS adolescents view behaviors such as smoking as a way to achieve higher SSS and thereby increase their peer social standing. Our results suggest that, in addition to tailoring intervention efforts by gender, placing adolescents of similar social standing to one another within the school into intervention groups that are led by a peer-nominated peer may increase the overall effectiveness of these peer-led prevention efforts.
PMCID: PMC2705959  PMID: 19306792
4.  Correlates of susceptibility to smoking among Mexican origin youth residing in Houston, Texas: A cross-sectional analysis 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:337.
Survey data suggest that in Texas Latino youth exhibit higher rates of susceptibility to smoking than youth from other ethnic groups. In this analysis we examined the relationship between susceptibility to smoking and well-known risk factors associated with smoking initiation among a cohort of 11 to 13 year old Mexican origin youth residing in Houston, Texas.
We analyzed cross-sectional survey data from 1,187 participants who reported they had never smoked, even a puff of a cigarette. The survey assessed peer and family social influence, school and neighborhood characteristics, level of family acculturation and socioeconomic status, and attitudes toward smoking. Bivariate associations, Student's t-tests, and logistic regression analysis were used to examine predictors of susceptibility.
Overall, 22.1% of the never-smokers were susceptible to smoking. Boys were more likely to be susceptible than girls (25.6% vs. 18.9%), and susceptible children were slightly older than non-susceptible children (12.1 vs. 11.8 years). In addition, multivariate analyses revealed that positive expectations about smoking exerted the strongest influence on susceptibility status (odds ratio = 4.85). Multivariate analyses further revealed that compared to non-susceptible participants, susceptibles were more likely to report peer influences supportive of smoking, lower subjective social status and more detentions at school, more temptations to try smoking and to have a mother and a brother who smokes.
Our findings suggest that interventions that target positive expectations about smoking may be useful in this population. Furthermore, because youth encounter smoking-initiation risk factors in different social environments, our results underscore the continued need for both family- and school-based primary prevention programs to adequately combat their influence. The results also can be used to inform the development of culturally sensitive programs for Mexican origin youth.
PMCID: PMC2569937  PMID: 18822130

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