Understanding school staff members’ enforcement of school tobacco policies to achieve tobacco-free school: a realist review

  • Anu Linnansaari (University of Tampere) (Creator)
  • Michael Schreuders (Creator)
  • Anton E Kunst (Creator)
  • Arja Rimpelä (Creator)
  • Pirjo Lindfors (Creator)



Abstract Background School tobacco policies (STPs) that aim to achieve a tobacco-free environment require consistent enforcement by school staff. However, little is known about why staff choose whether or not to enforce STPs. Therefore, we investigated staff members’ responses to STPs that determine enforcement. Furthermore, we examined how these responses depend on contextual factors at the individual, interpersonal, school, implementation, and national levels. Methods We performed a realist review (RR), which synthesizes existing primary evidence into a programme theory demonstrating key causal pathways through Context-Mechanism-Outcome configurations (CMOs). These CMOs link contextual factors to outcomes (i.e. staff enforcement) by explaining the underlying generative mechanisms (i.e. staff members’ cognitive, psychosocial, and behavioural responses). A systematic literature search for the period 2000–2016 was performed using Academic Search Premier, PsycInfo, and MEDLINE. Forty English-language articles were identified for the synthesis. Results Our programme theory demonstrated three CMOs: when contextual factors make staff members experience STP enforcement as part of their professional role and duties, it may lead to staff members showing responsibility for STP enforcement (CMO1); when contextual factors make staff members feel their contribution is leading to positive outcomes, it may lead to staff members showing motivation to enforce STPs (CMO2), and when contextual factors make staff members feel that they are able to deal with students’ responses, it may lead to staff members showing confidence in STP enforcement (CMO3). Moreover, the programme theory provided more precise insights into what contextual factors contribute to triggering the individual mechanisms and the consequent outcomes. Conclusions By applying a realist approach, we have been able to detect three CMOs explaining staff members’ STP enforcement. The findings provide useful insights explaining how stakeholders can support staff members’ STP enforcement and consequently improve the impact of STPs on adolescent smoking.
Date made available2 Aug 2019

Field of science, Statistics Finland

  • 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
  • 3141 Health care science

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