Changing exposure perceptions: A randomized controlled trial of an intervention with smoking parents

Vicki Myers*, Shoshana Shiloh, David M. Zucker, Laura J. Rosen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Children who live with smokers are at risk of poor health, and of becoming smokers themselves. Misperceptions of the nature of tobacco smoke exposure have been demonstrated among parents, resulting in continued smoking in their children’s environment. This study aimed to change parents’ perceptions of exposure by providing information on second-and third-hand exposure and personalised information on children’s exposure [NIH registry (NCT02867241)]. One hundred and fifty-nine families with a child < 8 years and at least one smoking parent were randomized into intervention (69), control (70), and enhanced control (20) groups. Reported exposure, parental smoking details, and a child hair sample were obtained at the start of the study and 6–8 months later. Parental perceptions of exposure (PPE) were assessed via a questionnaire. The intervention consisted of motivational interviews, feedback of home air quality and child’s hair nicotine level, and information brochures. PPE were significantly higher at the study end (94.6 ± 17.6) compared to study beginning (86.5 ± 19.3) in intervention and enhanced control groups (t(72) = −3.950; p < 0.001). PPE at study end were significantly higher in the intervention group compared to the regular control group (p = 0.020). There was no significant interaction between time and group. Parallel changes in parental smoking behaviour were found. Parental perceptions of exposure were increased significantly post intervention, indicating that they can be altered. By making parents more aware of exposure and the circumstances in which it occurs, we can help parents change their smoking behaviour and better protect their children.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number3349
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2 May 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Children
  • Intervention
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Parental smoking
  • Perceptions
  • RCT
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Tobacco smoke exposure


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