Comparing Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Associated With Tobacco-Related Products Between Private and Public University Students

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Josef W. Kampfe, SN
Emily J. Calderone, SN
Stefanie A. McGowan, SN
Jacqueline N. Nugent, SN
Jacqueline T. Vindici, SN
Department of Nursing, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, USA

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors associated with the use of both tobacco and alternative-tobacco products among public and private University students at two schools in the northeast.

Background: Recent literature has indicated a rising incidence in the use of smokeless tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes and hookah, on college campuses. This has shown to lead to other high-risk behaviors, including the use of traditional tobacco products (e.g. cigarettes).

Theoretical Framework: The Theory of Planned Behavior suggests that an individual’s knowledge, beliefs, and perceptions about the health risks associated with tobacco and alternative-tobacco products may be related to the use of those products. Recent studies have shown that college students perceive alternative-tobacco products (e.g. hookah and e-cigarettes) to be less harmful than cigarettes. This belief or perception may lead to use of these products.

Methods: Participant data was collected from a population comprised of undergraduate and graduate students at a four-year, private University in the northeast. Data was obtained using a 23-question survey, which was distributed over two-day period at table-sit events in a high traffic student center on campus. Results were then compared to findings of a similar, previously conducted study, which used the same survey and was conducted on a population of public University students within a similar geographical region. Data from both studies was grouped together and analyzed with IBM SPSS. Descriptive statistics were performed to analyze participant demographic data. Chi-square and independent sample t-tests were also conducted to determine differences in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors between the two populations.

Results: Public University students reported higher use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and hookah when compared to the private University students. When observing the perceptions of individuals with a self-reported history of tobacco use with cigarettes, results showed that these individuals believed that typical students at their institution used tobacco products a significantly higher number of times than what was actually found through the use of the survey. This was also the case when observing the perceptions of individuals with a history of alternative-tobacco use with e-cigarettes. 

Conclusion/Implications: This intercollegiate project from both a private and public University seeks to identify the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding use of hookah and electronic cigarettes among students on each campus. Findings from this study suggest that there is a knowledge deficit regarding tobacco-related products, which could lead to increases in the use of these products. The results of this study will be used to develop interventions to educate students about tobacco-related products.