It Takes Two to Tango: Patients’ and Providers’ Perspectives in Tobacco Cessation and Head/Neck Cancer

Academic Article


  • Background: Tobacco cessation among patients with head/neck cancer continues to be challenging despite evidence that cessation improves treatment outcomes. The purpose of this study was to understand barriers/facilitators to tobacco cessation among patients with head/neck cancer and health care providers and to obtain perspectives toward the development of a patient-centered tobacco cessation intervention. Materials and Methods: In-depth qualitative interviews with 10 health care providers and 21 patients with head/neck cancer (12 inpatients and 9 outpatients) who were current or former smokers. Results: Health was a common motivator to quit among patients. Although most patients indicated that their health care provider asked and advised them to quit, they were unaware of cessation resources. Suggestions for a tobacco cessation program included involvement of former smokers, health care provider involvement/counseling, supporting written materials, and incorporating follow-up and family support. Health care providers identified patients’ anger/frustration associated with the disease, social/demographic issues, and poor quality of life as the three most frequent challenges in treating patients. Although all providers reported asking about tobacco use, 70% emphasized a lack of formal training in tobacco cessation and lack of time. Their suggestions for a cessation program included having a “quarterback” responsible for this component with support from the entire health care team and continuity between outpatient and inpatient services to promote cessation, prevent relapse, and highlight the importance of follow-up and social support. Conclusion: There is great interest and need, both from patients and providers, for tobacco cessation services in the oncology setting tailored for patients with head/neck cancer in the context of cancer care. Implications for Practice: Although the combination of pharmacotherapy and cognitive-behavioral intervention is the standard evidence-based treatment for tobacco dependence, it must be adapted to meet the needs and wants of patients and providers to be effective. This study provides an in-depth examination of such needs among patients with head and neck cancer and providers in the context of cancer care. Providers and patients emphasized the need of having a trained health care provider dedicated to providing tobacco cessation through seamless integration between outpatient and inpatient services as well as follow-up with an emphasis on family involvement throughout the process.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 16734702
  • Author List

  • Khodadadi AB; Carroll W; Lee EL; Hansen B; Scarinci IC
  • Start Page

  • 761
  • End Page

  • 770
  • Volume

  • 26
  • Issue

  • 9