Skip The Patch…Send Them To Church

“Overall, 21% of Americans interviewed in our Gallup Daily tracking program this year say that they smoke.  (By the way, that’s down from an all-time high of 45% back in 1954).

But the percentage of smokers is only 12% among those who attend church once a week.  Smoking rises to 15% among those who attend almost every week.  Then 22% for those who attend once a month, 26% for those who seldom attend church, and finally 31% among those who never attend church.” (see 7/31 entry on USA Today Gallup blog)

I am always fascinated by correlations such as this.  Who thinks of the null hypothesis to look at this?  (Null hypothesis being that people who go to church smoke less which is what they collected the data to prove or disprove.)

With smoking being a huge health driver, what can you do with this information?  It’s hard to believe your employer or health plan could drive church attendance.  Perhaps this gets us back to social networking and your peer group.  Groups of friends or others coordinating and talking about quiting smoking may be more successful if someone active in a church was part of the team helping them.  (I am grasping at straws here.)

One Response to “Skip The Patch…Send Them To Church”

  1. You need to get your understanding of what “null hypothesis” means. In this case, the null hypothesis would be that there is no difference in smoking rates based on frequency of church attendence. The alternate hypothesis is that there is a difference AND that as church attendence frequency goes up smoking rates goes down (a negative correlation). Based on the data, the null hypothesis was rejected. This makes the case that there is an association between smoking and church attendence, but it does not prove that increased church attendence reduces smoking. To prove this you would have to take a group of smokers who all smoke the same, randomly divide them into five groups, have one group go once a week, have a second group go every other week, have a third group go once a month, etc. , and nothing happens to the last group. After some time (6 months?) measure the smoking rates for every body. If the same trends occur, you can start prescribing church as a smoke reduction intervention.

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