Tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Encouraging and assisting cessation early in life is critical given that quitting by age 30 dramatically reduces the risk of cancer death. Community college students are a priority population given their high rate of smoking compared to other young adults and lack of effective cessation programs targeting this group. A challenge facing tobacco control research is engaging high-risk populations in smoking cessation programs. This proposal addresses these issues using a novel approach. The long-term goal of this career development award is to develop Carla J. Berg, Ph.D. as an independent translational cancer control researcher, combining innovative approaches to cancer prevention including tobacco industry market segmentation research to inform smoking cessation messages, eHealth intervention strategies, and tailored messaging aimed at cancer prevention, specifically tobacco control among underserved, high-risk young adults. Her short-term career goals are to transition into independent cancer prevention research. Over the five-year award period, she will develop a knowledge base to will support development and implementation of an effective eHealth smoking cessation intervention targeting community college smokers. Career development activities include training in market segmentation research, eHealth intervention development, health behavior theory, cancer prevention, and biological bases of nicotine dependence. The tobacco industry has used market segmentation research (identification of groups with similar interests, goals, and values) to promote the uptake of smoking. We propose to apply these same tactics to promote smoking cessation and use of cessation services.
We aim to develop and test the feasibility of using market segmentation to enhance tailoring as part of an eHealth cessation intervention. The plan involves 3 studies. Studies 1 (survey) and 2 (focus groups) aim to (1) identify market segments of community college smokers and quantitatively and qualitatively assess differences in smoking attitudes and behaviors;and (2) investigate preferred communication channels (internet, cell phone, etc.) for intervention delivery and appropriate messages for the intervention. In Study 3, we will conduct a 2-group randomized trial (n=95/group) comparing enhanced tailoring (based on market segment + smoking-related factors) vs. standard tailoring (smoking-related factors only) as part of an eHealth smoking cessation intervention. The primary outcome for this feasibility study will be website use over a 6-week intervention period. Secondary outcomes will include abstinence (both self-report and cotinine-validated) and message processing. This proposal is innovative and addresses important gaps in the literature, including adherence to online interventions and health risk behaviors among community college students (i.e., a high-risk, underserved group of young adults). These experiences will provide Dr. Berg with skills to launch an independent career as an eHealth cancer prevention researcher. The University of Minnesota is an excellent environment for this proposal given: (1) its standing as a national leader in tobacco and cancer research through its NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center;(2) the School of Public Health and its well-established program in eHealth research;(3) the strength of the Carlson School of Management, which houses the Institute for Research in Marketing;and (4) its network of Minnesota colleges to support this work. The team of mentors, Drs. Jasjit Ahluwalia, Lawrence An, and Barbara Loken are leaders in tobacco control research and underserved populations, eHealth research among young adult smokers, and anti-tobacco marketing strategies, respectively. Thus, the candidate, the environment, and the mentorship team (in conjunction with a strong Scientific Advisory Board) are well matched to address this research and career development plan.

Public Health Relevance

Given the recognized role of tobacco use in the development of cancer and the high rates of smoking among community college students, we aim to decrease the prevalence of smoking and smoking-related disease, particularly cancer, by using tobacco industry marketing research strategies to inform the development of a tailored online cessation intervention targeting community college students to enhance intervention use.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Academic/Teacher Award (ATA) (K07)
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Study Section
Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
Program Officer
Perkins, Susan N
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Emory University
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Lingwall, Cailyn; Nehl, Eric; Topuridze, Marina et al. (2018) Perceived Effectiveness of Differing Health Warning Label Messaging Strategies among Adults in the Republic of Georgia: One Size Does Not Fit All. Int J Environ Res Public Health 15:
Berg, Carla J; Daniel, Carmen N; Vu, Milkie et al. (2018) Marijuana Use and Driving Under the Influence among Young Adults: A Socioecological Perspective on Risk Factors. Subst Use Misuse 53:370-380
Berg, Carla J (2018) A Socioecological Perspective Regarding Risk Factors for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Among Young Adults. Subst Abuse 12:1178221818805084
Berg, Carla; Stratton, Erin; Esiashvili, Natia et al. (2016) Providers' Perspectives of Survivorship Care for Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer. J Cancer Educ 31:31-8
Berg, Carla J; Smith, Samantha A; Bascombe, Ta Misha et al. (2016) Smoke-Free Public Policies and Voluntary Policies in Personal Settings in Tbilisi, Georgia: A Qualitative Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13:156
Berg, Carla J (2016) Preferred flavors and reasons for e-cigarette use and discontinued use among never, current, and former smokers. Int J Public Health 61:225-36
Berg, Carla J; Stratton, Erin; Esiashvili, Natia et al. (2016) Young Adult Cancer Survivors' Experience with Cancer Treatment and Follow-Up Care and Perceptions of Barriers to Engaging in Recommended Care. J Cancer Educ 31:430-42
Lowe, Kincaid; Escoffery, Cam; Mertens, Ann C et al. (2016) Distinct health behavior and psychosocial profiles of young adult survivors of childhood cancers: a mixed methods study. J Cancer Surviv 10:619-32
Scheuermann, Taneisha S; Nollen, Nicole L; Cox, Lisa Sanderson et al. (2015) Smoking dependence across the levels of cigarette smoking in a multiethnic sample. Addict Behav 43:1-6
Berg, Carla J; Stratton, Erin; Esiashvili, Natia et al. (2015) Providers' Perspectives on Addressing Health Risk Behaviors and Mental Health among Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer. Am J Clin Cancer Res 3:

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