Neighbors for a Smoke Free North Side: Evaluation of a Community Organization Approach to Promoting Smoking Cessation Among African Americans

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Abstract

Objectives

This study evaluated a community organization approach that emphasized involvement of audiences in program planning and implementation in promoting nonsmoking among African American residents of low-income neighborhoods.

Methods

The quasi-experimental design involved a 24-month intervention in 3 low-income, predominantly African American neighborhoods in St. Louis. Intervention neighborhoods were compared with comparable, untreated neighborhoods in Kansas City.

Results

The program was successful in engaging audience members in its governance and in instigating numerous and diverse neighborhood activities to promote nonsmoking. The prevalence of smoking declined from 34% to 27% in program neighborhoods but only from 34% to 33% in comparison neighborhoods. This difference was apparent within all demographically defined subsamples, indicating that observed changes were consistent and not attributable to confounding by demographic characteristics.

Conclusions

A community organization approach emphasizing local authority for program decisions and involvement of informal networks may have an appreciable impact on smoking among residents of low-income, African American neighborhoods. (Am J Public Health. 1998;88:1658-1663)

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