UVA smoking cessation program outperforming typical results

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A 15-month free program for UVA Cancer Center patients to help tobacco users quit – combining medication and one-on-one behavioral therapy – is showing promising results.

Of the 15 patients who have completed the full 15-month program since July 2019, 12 – or 80% – have quit smoking completely, compared with a typical success rate of 35%-55% for smoking cessation programs. Among the 211 patients who have started the program since July 2019, 63.1% have either quit entirely or reduced their tobacco usage by more than 50%.

“We believe the success rate may be higher here at UVA due to the thorough examination of research and best practices of other tobacco treatment programs prior to our program’s implementation,” said Neely Dahl, one of two tobacco treatment specialists who work with patients. “As the program continues to grow, we are continuously working to stay abreast of current research to ensure we are offering the best services for our patients.”

Keys to Success

UVA Cancer Center’s tobacco treatment specialists have eight one-on-one meetings (which are being conducted virtually at this time) during the 15-month program. At the first visit, the treatment specialists discuss the patient’s history of tobacco use and work with the participant to develop a treatment plan, which can include medications to help with quitting smoking as well as therapy sessions. The first five treatment sessions occur over about three months, followed by three follow-up visits over the next year.

UVA’s tobacco treatment specialists said their counseling work is helped significantly by the support they receive from the entire team at the UVA Cancer Center.

“From the greeters when they walk through the door to our providers who determine their treatment plans – everyone is here to help our patients receive the highest level of care possible,” said Jennifer Peregoy, one of the tobacco treatment specialists. “Our nursing staff and doctors continuously encourage their patients to address their tobacco use to not only help the patient’s overall health but to decrease the chances of cancer reoccurrence and create better cancer-treatment outcomes.”

Joining the Program

The program is now able to serve more than 400 patients per year. At this time, the program is only open to UVA Cancer Center and Lung Cancer Screening patients, but Dahl and Peregoy hope to expand their services throughout the health system in the years ahead.

“Our goal is for all clinics at UVA to offer the option of tobacco-cessation services to help their patients live a healthy, tobacco-free life,” Dahl said.


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