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The National Cancer Institute awarded a Cancer Center Cessation Initiative (3CI) enhancement grant to a team of UNC Tobacco Treatment Team researchers. The one-year, $190,685 award, a supplement to the two-year 3CI grant the NCI awarded in 2017,  will expand tobacco cessation treatment services for patients at the N.C. Cancer Hospital who use tobacco products and extend these services to their support persons, such as spouses, loved ones and friends, who also use tobacco.

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UNC Lineberger’s Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH.

The UNC Tobacco Treatment Team is part of the UNC Tobacco Intervention Programs, which is led by Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH, professor of family medicine at UNC School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Studies have shown that family and friends can impact a cancer patient’s success in quitting tobacco. In 2017, The NCI awarded UNC researchers a $500,000, two-year grant to study the effectiveness of providing tobacco cessation treatment services for patients at the N.C. Cancer Hospital patients. This work included a small study that showed preliminary evidence that including cancer patients’ support persons into the cancer patients’ cessation treatment plans resulted in higher quit rates for the cancer patients.

The supplemental grant will extend that prior work to increase reach and effectiveness of tobacco cessation methods. The Tobacco Treatment Team will investigate if providing free tobacco cessation counseling to cancer patients’ support persons who smoke can improve quit rates in cancer patients and their support persons.

“We know through research that helping people with cancer to stop smoking is critically important to their health and the potential effectiveness of their cancer treatment,” Goldstein said, “and making it easier for those who support them to also quit smoking benefits everyone. It is a win-win proposition.”

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Kimberly Shoenbill

UNC’s cessation program uses a range of methods aimed at curbing the urge to smoke, including offering intensive individual cessation treatment to support persons present at patients’ cessation counseling sessions; sending messages through the patient’s electronic health record; and using an existing automated telephone outreach to ask patients to encourage their support persons who use tobacco to enroll in treatment.

“Effective smoking cessation programs are based on a variety of tactics and methods that are evidence-based,” said UNC Lineberger’s Kimberly Shoenbill, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Family Medicine and associate director of research and quality improvement for the UNC Tobacco Treatment Program. “Our team’s continuous focus is to provide the best care for each patient. This fuels our drive to help people to quit smoking and to rigorously investigate existing and new approaches to determine which tobacco cessation methods work, for whom, and why.”