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Smoking in relation to psychosocial risk factors in adolescents

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Objective. The study investigated which psychosocial factors distinguish adolescent smokers from non-smokers, and examined the most important factors correlated with smoking. Method. A cross-sectional survey carried out by means of a questionnaire which, in addition to items on family, school, healthy habits, drug abuse and suicidal behaviour, also included a scale of depression (Zung's SDS) and of self-esteem (Rosenberg's SES). Sample. Two thousand one hundred and eleven high school students aged from 17.0 to 18.11 (1083 girls and 1028 boys), of whom 221 girls and 239 boys were smokers. Results. The smokers of both sexes differed significantly from the non-smokers in frequency of substance abuse, family dysfunction, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, attitude towards the harmful effects of smoking, truancy from school, and lesser involvement in sports. With regard to smoking behaviour, the most important predictive factors for adolescents of both sexes proved to be substance abuse, truancy, suicide attempts, a lower estimate of the harmfulness of smoking, and infrequent engagement in sports. Among the girls, predictive factors were also sexual and physical abuse, and binge eating. Conclusions. Smoking behaviour in adolescence may be part of a pattern of problematic behaviour and may be linked to various psychopathological disturbances.

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Accepted: 13 December 2000

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Tomori, M., Zalar, B., Kores Plesničar, B. et al. Smoking in relation to psychosocial risk factors in adolescents. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 10, 143–150 (2001).

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