Storytelling as a strategy to explore perceptions of the youth about smoking: a qualitative approach
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Portuguese League Against Cancer- Northern Branch, Portugal
Publication date: 2023-04-25
Corresponding author
C Fonseca
Portuguese League Against Cancer- Northern Branch, Portugal
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement):A135
The aim of the study was to explore the smoking perceptions and beliefs among the youth between 10 to 18 years old by analyzing 3 8 stories written by students from 16 different schools in the activity "Creative Writing" held by Portuguese League Against Cancer- Northern Branch.

Material and Methods:
We performed a qualitative study where the stories written by the youth were systematically analyzed to identify key themes spontaneously mentioned by the participants. We also conducted 2 online focus groups with teachers, to identify their insights and its content was also explored by Thematic Analysis (TA).

According to TA, 47% (N = 18) of the stories identifies tobacco risk factors (e.g., cancer and lung diseases) and 24% (N = 9) adopted an historical approach of tobacco assuming a social and cultural perspective (e.g., comparing smoking restrictions over the years). Also, 58% (N = 22) of the stories contained misconceptions about tobacco use (e.g., all smokers have cancer and die). Analyzing online focus groups, we found that teachers believe that their students have lots of misconceptions and that the younger students have higher negative attitudes towards smoking then later adolescents. Besides, we found that the strategies that are being implemented may not be the most efficient as they are not being translated into realistic knowledge about smoking which can jeopardize tobacco prevention.

The TA allowed us to understand that these youth have lots of misconceptions. Also, many topics were not explored in stories as expected (e.g. different types of smoking products,other tobacco's hanns, etc.). Despite almost half o the stories identified risk factors, they only mention the basics (e.g., cancer). The storie never reflected the importance of soft skills as self-esteem, self-confidence and decision making strategies (e.g., saying no) to smoking prevention, as academics about smoking advocates. All of this can be related to the lack of (effective) tobacco control interventions. But by knowing the actual perceptions of the students towards this topic, by developin collaborative work with the teachers, by being supported by health literacy strategies, b taking into consideration the developmental stage of the youth, future interventions ca be improved.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
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