BACKGROUND: Recent evidence indicates a causal link between both active smoking and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure and breast cancer (BC).

OBJECTIVE: The objective of the present study was to evaluate the initial reactions of girls and boys to tailored Web-based messages that describe the relationship between SHS and BC, using a parallel, single-blinded cluster randomized controlled trial.

METHODS: This trial was nested within a cycle of an ongoing longitudinal study of 1498 students from 74 secondary schools. Self-reported assessments were used to evaluate the impact of study messages on participants' risk perception and interest in obtaining additional information after participants were randomized by schools to control or intervention groups. The intervention group received a tailored visual message (based on gender and Aboriginal status) about BC and tobacco smoke. The control group received a standard visual message about smoking and cancer.

RESULTS: SHS exposure was identified as a BC risk factor by 380/1488 (25.54%) participants, during the preintervention analysis. Compared to the female participants in the control group (491/839, 58.5%), girls who received the intervention (339/649, 52.2%) were 14% more likely to agree that exposure to SHS increased their BC risk (relative risk [RR] 1.14, 95% CI 1.07-1.21). Nonsmoking girls who received the intervention were 14% more likely to agree that starting smoking would increase their BC risk (RR 1.14, 95% CI 1.07-1.21). Compared to the male participants in control group (348/839, 41.5%), boys who received the intervention (310/649, 47.8%) were 10% more likely to agree that girls' exposure to SHS increased their BC risk (RR 1.10, 95% CI 1.02-1.18). Compared to controls, girls who received the intervention were 52% more likely to request additional information about SHS and BC (RR 1.52, 95% CI 1.12-2.06).

CONCLUSIONS: Brief gender-sensitive messages delivered via the Internet have the potential to increase awareness and to stimulate information seeking about the risk for BC associated with SHS.

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Published in JMIR Research Protocols, v. 2, no. 2, e53.

© Chris G Richardson, Laura L Struik, Kenneth C Johnson, Pamela A Ratner, Carolyn Gotay, Jasmina Memetovic, Chizimuzo T Okoli, Joan L Bottorff. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 24.11.2013.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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