Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2003


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Gladys L. Husted

Committee Member

Joan Such Lockhart

Committee Member

Rick Zoucha


prevention, smoking


Smoking is the number one preventable cause of cancer deaths, yet more than 3,000 children start smoking each day (United States Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2001). There is a growing body of evidence that smoking behaviors in youth can be changed through effective health communication but little is known about how to systematically design and evaluate messages to achieve this outcome (Hornik, 2002). The literature is sparse about how messages are evaluated by youth. No published literature was found about how the ethnicity of featured actors in tobacco prevention television advertisements (spots) influenced youth evaluation of spots (USDHHS, 2001; Worden, 1997). The purpose of this study was to examine how youth in grades 5-8 evaluated overall liking (Like) and the design elements (perceived characteristics) of 10 spots, based on gender, ethnicity, and grade level of participants, and ethnicity of featured characters in spots. This between subjects, descriptive, correlational study was based on Social Cognitive Theory. In the convenience sample (n=368), there were only sufficient numbers of Black and White youth for the analysis of data for research questions 1-4 (n=324), but all participants were included in the analysis of data for research question 5. The scoresheet used to rate spots was tested using Chronbach's alpha, yielding coefficients between .82 and .87 for each item, indicating that the items were highly reliable. There were statistically significant differences of Like, based on gender, ethnicity, and grade level (p≤T.05). Pearson correlations of different magnitudes between Like and the perceived characteristics were all statistically significant, regardless of a subgroup (p≤T.05). Ethnicity of viewer did not predict how youth rated spots featuring White actors (F=.720, p=.397, df=1, p≤T.05), but was significant in predictions of youth ratings of spots featuring Black actors (F=24.13, p=.000, df=1, p≤T.05). White boys did not like Black commercials at all. There were no significant difference in how aggregates rated Like of the 10 spots (p≤T.05). These findings should be a key factor for nurses in cancer prevention and health promotion practice.