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April 24, 2002

Stop-Smoking Program Aimed at 50 and Older

Researchers in the Department of Psychiatry are conducting a study focusing exclusively on long-time smokers 50 years and older in an effort to help them kick the habit.

There are immediate cardiovascular benefits and a better quality of life following smoking intervention no matter what the smoker's age, said principal investigator Sharon Hall, PhD, UCSF professor and vice chair of psychiatry.

"We have designed the program to maximize the chances of abstinence. There are frequently other barriers to quitting tobacco, including social isolation, pervasive weight concerns and fluctuating motivation about cessation," she explained.

The overall goal of the new research is to develop and evaluate interventions that maintain nonsmoking, and to gain a better understanding of the processes leading to smoking cessation and relapse.

In a former, related smoking cessation study at UCSF, smokers received treatment with antidepressants and nicotine replacement therapies (NRT). Preliminary results indicate three out of five people have maintained abstinence for at least one year.

The new study will build on these promising findings, and will evaluate the efficacy of extended pharmacological support and tailored interventions to maintain high abstinence rates in chronic, older smokers.

Participants will be randomly assigned to groups and receive 12 weeks of long-acting ZybanŠ, an antidepressant used to quit smoking and approved by the FDA, and receive 10 weeks' supply of nicotine gum. They will also attend five sessions of group counseling at the UCSF Habit Abatement Clinic, 919 Irving St. in the Inner Sunset. Counseling will offer health-related information, facilitation of group discussion of smoking cessation strategies, and a personalized plan to quit smoking.

Participants must be at least 50 years of age and smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day. Those in the study will be interviewed by experts in the field of habit abatement. Besides the medication and gum, they will also receive evaluations throughout the program. Following the initial 12-week program, participants will be randomly assigned to four different treatment conditions, each with a different combination of stop-smoking interventions (a variety of plans including continued medication and/or support therapy.)

This study will include 448 participants over a 28-month recruiting period. For more information, call 415/476-7453 or visit the Habit Abatement Clinic web site.

Funding for the study is provided by a grant from National Institutes of Health.

Source: Twink Stern


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