A Novel Public Health Approach to Measuring Tobacco Cessation Needs Among Cancer Survivors in Alaska
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A Novel Public Health Approach to Measuring Tobacco Cessation Needs Among Cancer Survivors in Alaska

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    J Community Health
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    Cancer survivors who continue to smoke have poorer response to treatment, higher risk for future cancers and lower survival rates than those who quit tobacco after diagnosis. Despite the increased risk for negative health outcomes, tobacco use among Alaskan cancer survivors is 19%, among the highest in the nation. To characterize and address tobacco cessation needs among cancer survivors who called a quit line for help in quitting tobacco, Alaska's Comprehensive Cancer Control program initiated a novel partnership with the state's Tobacco Quit Line. Alaska's Tobacco Quit Line, a state-funded resource that provides confidential coaching, support, and nicotine replacement therapies for Alaskan adults who wish to quit using tobacco, was used to collect demographic characteristics, health behaviors, cessation referral methods and other information on users. From September 2013- December 2014, the Alaska Quit Line included questions about previous cancer status and other chronic conditions to assess this information from cancer survivors who continue to use tobacco. Alaska's Tobacco Quit Line interviewed 3,141 smokers, 129 (4%) of whom were previously diagnosed with cancer. Most cancer survivors who called in to the quit line were female (72%), older than 50 years of age (65%), white (67%), and smoked cigarettes (95%). Cancer survivors reported a higher prevalence of asthma, COPD and heart disease than the non-cancer cohort. Approximately 34% of cancer survivors were referred to the quit line by a health care provider. This report illustrates the need for health care provider awareness of persistent tobacco use among cancer survivors in Alaska. It also provides a sound methodologic design for assessing ongoing tobacco cessation needs among cancer survivors who call a quit line. This survey methodology can be adapted by other public health programs to address needs and increase healthy behaviors among individuals with chronic disease.
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