PURPOSE: Cancer patients who remain tobacco users have poorer outcomes, including increased mortality and decreased treatment tolerance; however, cessation post-diagnosis is challenging. Our formative research explored cessation-related perspectives among patients and staff at one National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, to inform improving cessation services within oncology care.
METHODS: Using a descriptive phenomenological approach, a purposive sample of current cancer patients (n = 13) and cancer center physicians and cessation program staff (n = 9) were recruited to complete one-on-one audio-recorded in-depth qualitative interviews, to explore experiences providing or receiving cessation support, and perspectives on patients' readiness and needs regarding cessation. Thematic coding utilized Green's predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing framework to identify factors having positive, negative, or mixed impact on delivery of best-practices cessation services (ie, 5As) and patient cessation success.
RESULTS: Patients identified cancer diagnosis as a wake-up call, existing health problems, persistent healthcare providers, cost of cigarettes, and societal disapproval of smoking as factors facilitating quitting. Futility of quitting after a cancer diagnosis, cost and logistics of program participation, clinician time constraints, and lifetime addiction made quitting harder. Family, friends, stigma and motivation, and pharmacotherapies played mixed roles. Patients felt survivor-focused cessation programs, including stress management, could better enable quitting. Provider-anticipated problems with implementing cessation counseling included so-called "therapeutic nihilism" (ie, pessimism regarding cessation post-diagnosis), lack of training and standardized approaches, and time and documentation burden. Clinicians saw both policies and peer clinician "champions" as potentially increasing prioritization of cessation within oncology.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings highlight unmet needs for patients and providers regarding provision of effective cessation care. Despite survival benefit, cessation is still not standard within cancer care. Our results show that many patients would benefit from standardized programs where they are routinely asked about cessation. Providers would benefit from both structural enhancements and professional education to ensure that evidence-based cessation services tailored to cancer patients, are offered throughout treatment and survivorship.
Shenton, Luke M.; Perera, Udara; Leader, Amy; and Klassen, Ann C., "Perceptions of Facilitators and Barriers to Smoking Cessation Among Patients and Providers in a Cancer Center: A Single Institution Qualitative Exploratory Study" (2023). College of Population Health Faculty Papers. Paper 184.
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