Development and validation of a smoking expectancies measure for adolescents seeking to quit smoking

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Background—A more comprehensive understanding of factors that affect smoking cessation outcomes among adolescents may help enhance treatment interventions. One promising but underexplored factor that may influence cessation success is teens’ specific expectancies or beliefs about smoking outcomes. The present study evaluated the validity and reliability of a new measure of expectancies and its association with cessation outcomes among 762 adolescent smokers participating in studies of the American Lung Association’s Not-On-Tobacco cessation program. Methods—Self-report questionnaires were collected prior to and following participation in a smoking cessation program. Self-reported cigarette use was verified with expired-air carbon monoxide. A multi-step exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and reliability and validity analyses were performed. Results—Four theoretically-related yet empirically independent factors were identified by the Smoking Expectancies Questionnaire (SEQ): 1) Positive Reinforcement, 2) Negative Reinforcement / Emotional Regulation, 3) Negative Reinforcement / Addiction and Withdrawal, and 4) Negative Outcomes/Risk. These factors could be subsumed by a single SEQ factor that reflected an overall concept of smoking expectancies relevant for adolescent smoking cessation. An overall SEQ Function score reflecting the balance between positive and negative expectancies predicted both pre-intervention cigarettes per day and cessation outcomes. Conclusions—A single, overall SEQ Function score may prove useful for understanding the associations among individual, social and contextual factors in predicting treatment outcomes. Additionally, study findings may assist with modifying smoking expectancies among cessation program participants thereby enhancing treatment outcomes with diverse youth smoking populations.