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Motivational Interviewing Helps Reduce Home Secondhand Smoke Exposure, Study Finds

Update Date: Jun 26, 2014 09:20 AM EDT
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Motivational interviewing, along with standard education and awareness programs reduces secondhand smoke exposure among children living in those households, according to a new study. 

Motivational interviewing is a counseling strategy that gained popularity in the treatment of alcoholics. It uses a patient-centered counseling approach to help motivate people to change behaviors. According to experts it stands in contrast to externally driven tactics instead favoring to work with patients by acknowledging how difficult change is.

According to the new research, caregivers of children who receive motivational interviewing combined with smoking risk education were more likely than a comparison group to set up home smoking bans while reducing harmful secondhand smoke exposure, as measured by air nicotine levels in the homes.

"The lowered secondhand smoke exposure in the motivational interviewing group is important, because children in Head Start communities are at high risk for asthma and other disorders linked to such exposure," said report lead author Michelle N. Eakin, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in the press release. "We know from this study that people can change behavior, but to do so, raising awareness and educating them is not enough."

"We've demonstrated the effectiveness of a practical intervention for a vulnerable population," Eakin added.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 

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