Hookah Smoking Outcome Expectations Among Young Adults

Tracey E. Barnett, Felix E. Lorenzo, Eric K. Soule

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Despite the dangers associated with hookah tobacco smoking, use and popularity in the United States among young adults continue to increase. While quantitative studies have assessed users' attitudes toward hookah, qualitative research can provide a more in-depth description of positive and negative attitudes and beliefs associated with hookah use. Objectives: To determine outcome expectancies associated with hookah use among young adults. Methods: We conducted six focus groups in 2013 to identify outcome expectancies associated with hookah use. Participants (N = 40) were young adults aged 18–23 who reported hookah use in the past three months. Using Outcome Expectancy Theory perspective, we posed the question “Hookah smoking is _______?” to elicit words or phrases that users associate with hookah use. Results: Over 75% of the users' hookah use outcome expectancies were positive, including associating hookah smoking with relaxation and a social experience. Content analysis of the words engendered six themes. These themes included Social Appeal, Physical Attractiveness, Pleasant Smoke, Comparison to Cigarettes, Relaxation, and Deterrents. Fewer negative hookah use expectancy words and phrases were identified, but included “tar” and “cough.” Conclusions: The findings suggest that participants lacked basic knowledge about hookah tobacco smoking, had misconceptions about its danger, and had many positive associations with hookah use. Incorporating components addressing positive hookah expectancies may improve the efficacy of established and new hookah use prevention and cessation interventions and policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Hookah
  • Outcome Expectancy Theory
  • qualitative research
  • young adult


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