Behavioral decision making and the levels of change: An application of the transtheoretical model to prenatal smoking in low-income women

Janet Yvonne Groff, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Despite continued research and public health efforts to reduce smoking during pregnancy, prenatal cessation rates in the United States have decreased and the incidence of low birth weight has increased from 1985 to 1991. Lower socioeconomic status women who are at increased risk for poor pregnancy outcomes may be resistant to current intervention efforts during pregnancy. The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the determinants of continued smoking and quitting among low-income pregnant women. Using data from cross-sectional surveys of 323 low-income pregnant smokers, the first study developed and tested measures of the pros and cons of smoking during pregnancy. The original decisional balance measure for smoking was compared with a new measure that added items thought to be more salient to the target population. Confirmatory factor analysis using structural equation modeling showed neither the original nor new measure fit the data adequately. Using behavioral science theory, content from interviews with the population, and statistical evidence, two 7-item scales representing the pros and cons were developed from a portion (n = 215) of the sample and successfully cross-validated on the remainder of the sample (n = 108). Logistic regression found only pros were significantly associated with continued smoking. In a discriminant function analysis, stage of change was significantly associated with pros and cons of smoking. The second study examined the structural relationships between psychosocial constructs representing some of the levels of and the pros and cons of smoking. The cross-sectional design mandates that statements made regarding prediction do not prove causation or directionality from the data or methods analysis. Structural equation modeling found the following: more stressors and family criticism were significantly more predictive of negative affect than social support; a bi-directional relationship was found between negative affect and current nicotine addiction; and negative affect, addiction, stressors, and family criticism were significant predictors of pros of smoking. The findings imply reversing the trend of decreasing smoking cessation during pregnancy may require supplementing current interventions for this population of pregnant smokers with programs addressing nicotine addiction, negative affect, and other psychosocial factors such as family functioning and stressors.

Subject Area

Behaviorial sciences|Womens studies|Obstetrics|Gynecology|Public health

Recommended Citation

Groff, Janet Yvonne, "Behavioral decision making and the levels of change: An application of the transtheoretical model to prenatal smoking in low-income women" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9831530.