Thiruvananthapuram: More than drugs, it is counselling by a doctor or health worker that plays a key role in smoking cessation, says a study conducted in Kerala.
The study, conducted in Palakkad district in the context of concern over tobacco caused diseases, found that doctor`s advice followed by health-workers counselling in Primary
Health Centres (PHCs) could be an effective method to persuade even chain smokers to give up cigarattes or bidis.
Tobacco use, both smoking and chewing, contributes to 50 per cent of all cancers in men and 15 per cent among women of Kerala. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2009-10), conducted in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, shows that 21.9 per cent and 10.3 per cent of males in Kerala smoke.
The study revealed that about 20 per cent smokers got rid of the unhealthy addiction following advice and counselling, and around 10 per cent abstained even after two years.
The study, conducted for the Project Quit Tobacco International, covered 755 male smokers, averaging 44 years, selected from six PHCs. It was led by Dr A S Pradeep Kumar, Additional Director, Directorate of Health Services, Kerala.
"Smoking cessation using drugs is not feasible in developing countries due to issues of drug availability, affordability and social acceptability. As such, doctor?s
advice and counselling by health workers are useful in promoting cessation", Kumar said.
The target respondents were randomized into two groups Minimal Intervention (MI) and Augmented Intervention (AI). Those in the MI group (49.5 per cent) were given doctor`s advice and a factsheet on tobacco harm.
The rest received doctor`s advice, factsheet and counseling by a non-doctor health professional, and a quit tobacco guide. The quit rate and harm reduction were assessed at third, sixth and 12th weeks, and followed up at six months and two years.
The quit rate among both groups was high at three months and remained substantial at 10 per cent after two years. Harm reduction was also significant in both groups and about 25 per cent reduced the number of cigarettes/bidis by half, Kumar said. The quit rate at three months among MI and AI groups was 16 and 21 per cent respectively.