Perceptions of nicotine dependence and loss of autonomy among college student smokers

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Larson, Chandra S.
Clark, Jeffrey K. (Jeffrey Kevin)
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Thesis (M.S.)
Department of Physiology and Health Science
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The purpose of the study was to determine the association of college student smokers' perceptions of nicotine dependence and measurements of loss of autonomy. The participants of the study were students enrolled in 7 randomly selected large (N > 170) core curriculum classes at Ball State University, during spring semester 2003. Using a cross-sectional data collection process, participants completed a 33 item survey consisting of questions from the Hooked on Nicotine Checklist and National College Health Risk Behavior Survey. The design of this study was to determine whether student smokers' perceive themselves as dependent on nicotine and how this was associated with a measurement on a loss of autonomy scale. Descriptive statistics, chi square, and univariate analyses were used to analyze the data. The majority, 64%, of participants had smoked sometime in their life, with 30% being classified as current smokers. Significant associations were found between the following variables: loss of autonomy and participants' perceptions of nicotine dependence, loss of autonomy and amount of cigarettes smoked, loss of autonomy and the number of years smoked, and perceptions of addiction and the number of years smoked. Gender and race were not found to be significantly associated with loss of autonomy or perception of nicotine dependence. Further analysis showed that as the consumption of cigarettes increases to an average of 2-5 cigarettes a day, chance of losing of autonomy also increases.