Smoking cessation for cancer patients through the lens of cancer specialists: challenges & solutions

P Fitzpatrick, N Bhardwaj, S Syed, P Fox, K Frazer, V Niranjan, A Lyons, A McCann, S Brennan, S Guerin
2022 European Journal of Public Health  
Background The benefits of smoking cessation (SC) for cancer patients are widely recognised. However, there has been a limited emphasis on SC in this context and it continues to be a challenge for cancer patients. As part of a larger feasibility study aiming to develop a structured SC pathway for cancer patients in Ireland, this qualitative study explored the SC practices, experiences and opinions of oncology healthcare professionals (HCPs). Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted
more » ... 18 HCPs from lung, breast, cervical, head and neck and general oncology, across 4 specialist adult cancer hospitals in Ireland. Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Results Four key themes emerged: (1) Frequently ask and advise but infrequently assist: most HCPs ask about smoking and many advise about available supports, but few refer patients to SC services. Where offered, referrals were to hospital SC services and/or nicotine replacement therapy was prescribed; no HCP prescribed varenicline or bupropion. Barriers included lack of time, ill-defined referral pathways and lack of knowledge. (2) Increased willingness but differing ability to quit: most patients were interested in quitting post diagnosis and had varying support needs, linked to cancer stage, social circumstances and stress levels. (3) Need for an integrated or parallel service: all HCPs suggested that a structured and defined referral pathway will facilitate SC. (4) Motivational counselling and pharmacotherapy combination: many HCPs suggested face to face as the best mode of intervention initially, with regular follow ups and ongoing support virtually, started pre-treatment, with an empathetic and empowering approach with provision of both motivational counselling and SC pharmacotherapy. Conclusions Smoking post cancer diagnosis has serious implications for cancer treatment and prognosis but is frequently overlooked. These findings will inform the design of a SC pathway for cancer patients. Key messages • Despite increased willingness to quit, there is inadequate and inconsistent SC support provision for cancer patients. • Tailored SC support should be an integral part of comprehensive cancer care.
doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckac131.017 fatcat:2uxesnd7ojaq7ercxdwkn7ppk4