Knowledge and attitudes regarding smoking during pregnancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Conor Gilligan, Robert W Sanson-Fisher, Catherine D’Este, Sandra Eades and Mark Wenitong
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (10): 557-561.


Objective: To identify factors associated with antenatal smoking and explore characteristics of smoking behaviour among pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Design and setting: Cross-sectional study using interviewer-administered questionnaires of 145 pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women attending a health service in Far North Queensland between November 2005 and December 2006.

Main outcome measures: Prevalence of self-reported smoking; predictors and patterns of smoking in early pregnancy; and relationships between smoking and the prevalence of predisposing, enabling and reinforcing factors, including women’s knowledge about and attitudes towards smoking and the risks involved.

Results: Of 145 women, 41% (n = 60) reported being daily or occasional smokers. Knowledge about harms of smoking was generally high. Women who were smokers had a significantly higher rate of smoking partners (n = 36) than women who were non-smokers (n = 31) (77% v 41%, P < 0.001). Level of daily stress was significantly higher among smokers than non-smokers (P = 0.001).

Conclusion: Shifted population norms among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are accompanied by a shift in the factors that can effectively differentiate between smokers and non-smokers within this population. Rather than the traditional, mainstream predictors of antenatal smoking, interventions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women should focus on the social environment, and the influences of social networks and partners on the behaviour of individuals.

  • Conor Gilligan1
  • Robert W Sanson-Fisher1
  • Catherine D’Este1
  • Sandra Eades2
  • Mark Wenitong3

  • 1 School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW.
  • 2 Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Apunipima Cape York Health Council, QLD.

Competing interests:

Recruitment, data collection and data entry were funded by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant No. 510776.

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