Association of parental smoking behaviors and absences in school-age children: Implications for the nurse practitioner

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Abstract

Purpose:

To examine the association between reported absences and parental smoking in school-age children, aged 6–17, and to specifically explore the impact of maternal smoking on the health and attendance of school-age children.

Data sources:

The sample of 7488 parent–child dyads was randomly selected from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, a multipurpose cross-sectional household interview survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The parent sample included 2673 men and 4375 women. Children’s ages ranged from 6 to 17 with a mean of 11.7 years.

Conclusions:

Maternal, but not paternal, present and past smoking behavior significantly impacts the child’s wellness and school attendance. The reasons for this disparity are unclear but may relate to synergistic effects of pre- and postnatal nicotine exposure, the traditional role of mother as caregiver, or specific smoking habits that increase environmental tobacco exposure.

Implications for practice:

Assessment and educational strategies for families regarding the hazards of childhood exposure to environmental tobacco smoke are indicated. Specific implications for the role of the nurse practitioner across diverse specialties are addressed with emphasis on the need for development of gender, age, and culturally sensitive smoking cessation programs and support networks.

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