Smoking Cessation at a Safety-Net Hospital: A Radiation Oncology Resident-Led Quality Improvement Initiative

Stephen J. Ramey, Benjamin Silver, Dayssy A. Diaz, Akul Munjal, Shahil Mehta, Benjamin Rich, Raphael Yechieli, Cristiane Takita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Continued smoking among patients with cancer has been associated with increased toxicities, resistance to treatment, and recurrence. This resident-led quality improvement study attempted to increase smoking cessation by providing free smoking cessation medications in the radiation oncology clinic. Methods and Materials: Twenty currently smoking patients with nonmetastatic cancer were prospectively enrolled. First line treatment was protocol-standardized combined nicotine replacement therapy (patches and lozenges). Therapy was initiated before radiation therapy and given for 12 weeks. Patient self-reported tobacco use was assessed at midtreatment, end of 12-week treatment, 3-month follow-up, 6-month follow-up, and 12-month follow-up. Results: Within the initial cohort of 20 patients, average years smoked was 36.3 years (median = 37.5). In addition, 85% had attempted to quit previously. Among patients initially enrolled, 3 did not initiate radiation therapy, and 4 were removed from the study by midtreatment due to noncompliance. Midway through treatment, patients had cut self-reported cigarette use to 31% of baseline. However, 75% or more of patients had smoked within the last week at all timepoints assessed. With further follow-up, the number of cigarettes smoked daily continued to rise, reaching 61% of baseline by the 12-month follow-up. Conclusions: Patients reduced cigarette consumption, but all patients eventually resumed smoking during the 12-month follow-up. Although it is unfortunate that this study did not result in long-term smoking cessation, the results demonstrate the difficulties faced in helping patients with cancer quit, particularly patients seen at a safety-net hospital. Future efforts could be directed at intensified smoking cessation programs, likely incorporating a more standardized counseling component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1061-1065
Number of pages5
JournalAdvances in Radiation Oncology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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