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New SU study helps smokers kick the habit with customized support programs
New SU study helps smokers kick the habit with customized support programsSeptember 25, 2006Carol K. Masiclatclkim@syr.edu
No two smokers are alike. A new Syracuse University self-help study being conducted this fall recognizes this reality and seeks to help smokers kick the habit through custom-made support programs. Monica Webb, assistant professor of psychology in The College of Arts and Sciences, is seeking smokers between the ages of 18-64 to participate in her three-month, SU-funded study. The participants must smoke at least 10 cigarettes a day.
Webb’s research is in the area of health psychology, with an emphasis on the psychological aspects of tobacco addiction, motivation and treatment. “Quitting smoking is the single most important behavior change that a person can make,” says Webb.
According to the American Cancer Society, smoking causes close to 342,000 deaths each year in the United States. This year alone, an estimated 174,470 new cases of lung and bronchus cancer will be diagnosed.
Webb believes smokers may be helped by information written at the individual level, rather than generic messages about quitting smoking. In two previous studies, Webb has found that creating personalized self-help materials has helped smokers prepare to quit. “We have found the extensive personalization of smoking cessation materials to be beneficial, in terms of helping smokers derive more benefit from the content, become more `ready to quit’ and make progress toward cessation,” she says. “In this new study, we plan to establish whether smoking cessation can be achieved by personalization and to develop low-cost interventions for individuals interested in quitting smoking. If our hypotheses are supported, our personalized program (called `Lights Out’) can then be made available for implementation, further evaluation and widespread application at national and local agencies.”
An advantage to self-help programs is that since most smokers would prefer to quit on their own, they can receive the same type of information provided during professional treatment in the comfort of their own environment. After enrollment, participants will receive a personalized intervention, which will discuss the process of quitting smoking and strategies for quitting in the long-term. Participants will complete two assessments. The first is a phone interview at the time of joining the study, and the second will be a follow-up assessment through mailed questionnaires after the participants have had a chance to use the intervention materials.
Webb notes that just calling the program is a major step toward quitting smoking and believes smokers can be helped through the intervention. Those interested in participating in the study should call 442-SMOK (442-7665) or 1-877-56-SMOKE (1-877-567-6653) by Oct. 30.