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clinmed/2003030003v1 (April 1, 2003)
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The correlates of teenage smoking: some problems with interpreting the evidence
Background: This paper attempts to address the methodological problem of disentangling complex interrelationships between teenage smoking and other variables when using survey data. As in any research based on survey data, it is difficult to distinguish systematic from random patterns due to other variables.
Method: A pragmatic approach of classifying variables into three groups of objectively measured demographic, socio-environmental variables and subjectively measured socio-psychological variables was adopted. A secondary cross-sectional survey data source was used to fit and test three models.
Results: The results suggest that socio-environmental and socio-psychological variables may effect teenage smoking through demographic and some other variables not measured in the survey.
Conclusion: Standard statistical techniques are unable to distinguish between the different effects and their impact on the outcome. Therefore, it is possible that the effects of variables reported in the literature on teenage smoking, if true, are over estimated. For example, self-esteem may not be as important and the role of peer pressure may not be as clear it has been made out to be.