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Effectiveness of a complex intervention in reducing the prevalence of smoking among adolescents: study design of a cluster-randomized controlled trial
Leiva A, Estela A, Torrent M,
Calafat A, Bennassar M, and Yáñez A.
(2014) BMC Public Health, 14: 373. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-373.


Background: The likelihood of an adolescent taking up smoking may be influenced by his or her society, school and family. Thus, changes in the immediate environment may alter a young person’s perception of smoking. Methods/Design: The proposed multi-center, cluster-randomized controlled trial will be stratified by the baseline prevalence of smoking in schools. Municipalities with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants will be randomly assigned to a control or intervention group. One secondary school will be randomly selected from each municipality. These schools will be randomized to two groups: the students of one will receive any existing educational course regarding smoking, while those of the other school will receive a four-year, class-based curriculum intervention (22 classroom lessons) aimed at reinforcing a smoke-free school policy and encouraging smoking cessation in parents, pupils, and teachers. The intervention will also include annual meetings with parents and efforts to empower adolescents to change the smoking-related attitudes and behaviors in their homes, classrooms and communities. We will enroll children aged 12-13 years as they enter secondary school during two consecutive school years (to obtain sufficient enrolled subjects). We will follow them for five years, until two years after they leave secondary school. All external evaluators and analysts will be blinded to school allocation. The aim of this study is to analyze the effectiveness of a complex intervention in reducing the prevalence of smoking in the third year of compulsory secondary education (ESO) and two years after secondary school, when the participants are 14-15 and 17-18 years old, respectively. Discussion: Most interventions aimed at preventing smoking among adolescents yield little to no positive long-term effects. This clinical trial will analyze the effectiveness of a complex intervention aimed at reducing the incidence and prevalence of smoking in this vulnerable age group. Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials: NCT01602796.

Keywords: Adolescent, Intervention study, Randomized controlled trial, Risk-reducing behavior, Schools.