Ministry of Public Health in Qatar (MOPH) is developing a smoking cessation Quitline to improve quit rates among Qatari smokers. This project (pilot study) is a collaboration between the Ministry of Public Health and the Arizona Smokers' Helpline (ASHLine) in the USA.
Researchers in the Public Health and Health Research Governance Departments at MOPH as well as experts from Arizona Smokers' Helpline (ASHLine) have been trained to offer social support and practical guidance to improve self-regulation and coping skills to smokers in Qatar while they are receiving medication (nicotine replacement therapy).
Callers have the opportunity to receive counseling on problem-solving, management of cigarette cravings and withdrawal symptoms, coping skills training, and a blend of elements of various evidence-based strategies for behavioral change.
Male smokers are recruited from Primary Health Care smoking cessation clinics and those who are eligible receive five telephone-based counseling sessions (based on principles of cognitive behavior therapy). Smoking behavior outcomes (quit rates, number of cigarettes smoked) are assessed at end of treatment (week 6) and 1 and 3-month follow-up.
Data gathered from this project aim to guide long-term efforts to promote health systems change, train and encourage health care providers to refer interested smokers to the Quitline and to generate preliminary data to test efficacy and effectiveness of cessation services provided via Quitline model for smokers in Qatar.
Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Public Health Sheikh Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani said: The research project on smoking cessation serves the implementation of the National Health Strategy 2018-2022, which sets a national goal of reducing tobacco consumption by 30 percent by 2022.
He explained that the research program is an important addition to the efforts led by the (MOPH) in cooperation with its partners in the health sector and the concerned authorities in the country to reduce the consumption of tobacco in all its forms, as well as providing the latest specialized scientific means to help in quitting smoking.
The research team at the Health Research Governance Department praised the importance of the proposed methods of research in improving the ways of quitting smoking in the long term through continuous behavioral counseling services over the phone, in addition to drug therapies. The MOPH team thanked the Qatar National Research Fund for providing financial support for the implementation of the project.
Smoking is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality rate globally, and current trends indicate that tobacco will cause more than 8 million deaths by 2030. Compared to non-smokers, smokeless tobacco users and cigarette smokers have a markedly higher risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Tobacco use in the State of Qatar is approximately 31.9 percent of men and 1.2 percent of women smoking tobacco, underpinning the need to create effective and wide-reaching treatment approaches to improve cessation rates in Qatar. MOPH seeks to treat tobacco dependence via primary healthcare systems, brief advice delivered by healthcare providers is important in motivating smokers to quit, long-term success requires more intensive, individualized services that include a combination of pharmacotherapy and evidence-based behavioral counseling services. Telephone Quitline can dramatically increase access to cost-effective, evidence-based smoking cessation treatment, and augment the benefits of broader tobacco control policies to reduce smoking-related disease. There is evidence that providing counseling and medication together is more effective than either alone.
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