Utility of Responsiveness Theory for Classifying Supportive Behaviors to Enhance Smokeless Tobacco Cessation

Laura Akers, Judith S. Gordon, Zoe Brady, Judy A. Andrews, Herbert H. Severson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Although social support is correlated with successful tobacco cessation, interventions designed to optimize social support have shown mixed results. Understanding the process of providing social support for tobacco cessation may suggest new approaches to intervention. Responsiveness theory provides a new framework for classifying supportive behaviors in the context of tobacco cessation. It proposes three main components to sustaining relationship quality when providing support to an intimate partner: showing respect, showing understanding, and showing caring. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 35 women whose husbands or domestic partners had quit smokeless tobacco and were analyzed within a responsiveness theory framework: Positive and negative instances of the three supportive components were expressed in terms of beliefs and attitudes, interactions with the chewer, and behaviors outside of the interaction context. Results: Positive activities included respecting the chewer-s decision on whether, when, and how to quit; perspective-taking and other efforts to understand his subjective experience; and expressing warmth and affection toward the chewer. Particularly problematic for the women were the challenges of respecting the chewer-s autonomy (ie, negative behaviors such as nagging him to quit or monitoring his adherence to his cessation goal) and lack of understanding the nature of addiction. Conclusions: The findings help to confirm the potential utility of responsiveness theory for elucidating the breadth of both positive and negative forms of partner support that may be useful to guide social support interventions for tobacco cessation. Implications: The study provides a categorization system for positive and negative social support during smokeless tobacco cessation, based on responsiveness theory and interviews with 35 partners of smokeless users.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberntv144
Pages (from-to)1150-1156
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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