Gender determinants of smoking practice in Indigenous communities: An exploratory study

Vikki Knott, Genevieve Gilligan, Lauren Maksimovic, D Shen, M Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the need to urgently reduce smoking rates among Indigenous Australians, in order to close-the-gap in life expectancy, little is known regarding how this can be achieved. This study aimed to explore whether a focus on gender specific determinants of smoking among Indigenous Australians could be identified, thus providing a potentially novel approach to underpin future efforts at intervention. A qualitative research design was employed. Eighty-two participants, comprised of 43 Indigenous women (mean age 32.15, SD, 12.47) and 39 Indigenous men (mean age 34.91, SD, 11.26), participated in one of 12 focus groups held in metropolitan, regional and rural locations in South Australia. Facilitators prompted discussion in response to the question: 'What is it like being a smoker these days?' Two experienced coders assessed data for themes using Attride-Stirling's (2002) method of analysis. Two global themes emerged for men and women. The first theme, 'It's Harder to Smoke Nowadays', encompassed sub-themes capturing changed smoking practices in response to tobacco control strategies implemented in Australia. Sub-themes of 'smoking in secrecy' coupled with an 'awareness of the effects of passive smoking' were identified among women. Among men, sub-themes that depicted tension between 'a desire to be a role model' and 'guilt about smoking' emerged. The second theme, 'Push and Pull Factors', identified a range of gender specific determinants of smoking. While similar reasons for smoking ('pull factors') were identified in men and women (e.g. addiction, boredom, stress, pleasure, mood stabiliser), different 'push factors' (reasons for not wanting to smoke) emerged. For men, sport, fitness and children were identified as reasons for not wanting to smoke, whereas women identified factors such as respect for non-smokers, and body image concerns. The current findings suggest that there may be fundamental differences in the determinants of smoking (pull factors) as well as reasons for wanting to quit (push factors) between Indigenous men and women. A focus on interventions that target gender specific determinants, or motivators of smoking, offers a novel, and potentially efficacious approach to reduce smoking rates among Indigenous Australians. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-241
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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