Smoking is a major problem in the UK and is estimated to contribute to around 114,000 deaths each year. The problem is especially acute among teenagers, with 82% of smoking starting during adolescence. Deterring young people from taking up smoking is difficult; however, recent studies have identified the importance of influential friends and friendship groups in the development of anti-smoking norms.
During ASSIST (A Stop Smoking in Schools Trial, funded by the Medical Research Council), a large longitudinal dataset, including information on teenage smoking behaviour and their friendship networks, was collected.
This study was part of the European Collaborative Research Project.
Secondary analysis of data collected from over 10,000 students from more than 57 schools.
- Investigate whether smokers choose other smokers to be friends, or whether within friendship groups the uptake of smoking is through another social mechanism such as imitation or overt pressure.
- Other analyses will consider whether personal network characteristics such as popularity affect smoking behaviour, and whether an individual’s position in their social network, for example, as a group member or isolate, affects their propensity to smoke.
- Amongst other methods, the study will apply recent developments in the dynamic analysis of social networks and behaviour and will, amongst other methods, utilise a recently developed statistical modelling program, SIENA.
- Cardiff University project information page
- Mercken L, Steglich C, Sinclair P, Holliday J, Moore L. ‘A longitudinal social network analysis of peer influence, peer selection, and smoking behavior among adolescents in British schools’. Health Psychology 2012, 31(4): 450-459.
- Steglich C, Sinclair P, Holliday J, Moore L. ‘Actor-based analysis of peer influence in A Stop Smoking In Schools Trial (ASSIST)’Social Networks. 2012. 34(3): 359-369.
- Holliday J, Rothwell H, Moore L. ‘The relative importance of different measures of peer smoking on adolescent smoking behavior: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of a large British cohort’. Journal of Adolescent Health 2010. 47(1):58-66.
- European Collaborative Research Project webpage