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Nonsmokers helping smokers and the role of culture

Institution: University of California, San Diego
Investigator(s): Shu-Hong Zhu, Ph.D.
Award Cycle: 2004 (Cycle 13) Grant #: 13RT-0023 Award: $476,656
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: Research Project Awards

Initial Award Abstract
This proposal focuses on ways that nonsmokers can help family members quit smoking. The vast majority of smokers trying to quit seek no professional help. Yet research shows that getting help from others gives smokers a higher chance of successful quitting. A better understanding of ways for nonsmoking family members to help could have far-reaching public health benefits, increasing the number of smokers who manage to quit and reducing the incidence of tobacco-related disease. These benefits could be especially meaningful for Asian minority groups, which have a high rate of family involvement in health decisions but make limited use of the standard quit-smoking programs. The need is especially acute among Californians whose primary languages are Asian. Few quit-smoking programs in Asian languages exist, and tobacco-related diseases take a high toll.

The proposed research will be conducted by the California Smokers’ Helpline, a statewide telephone service providing free quit-smoking counseling in multiple languages. Subjects will be smokers’ family members who phone the Helpline for information about helping smokers quit. These family members will be referred to as proxies. To shed light on the role of culture in proxies’ helping behavior, the study will examine information for various ethnic/language groups from among callers to the Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), and Spanish language lines, as well as Asian, Hispanic, and Caucasian callers to the English-language line.

We propose three related studies. In Study 1, we will gather general information about proxies across cultures. In Study 2, we will describe specifics of proxies’ helping behavior in two ethnic/language groups: Chinese-speaking Chinese and English-speaking Caucasians. We will look at the role of culture by making comparisons between these two ethnic/language groups. In Study 3, we will develop a training program for proxies who want to help family members quit smoking. The training program will take into account what we learn in Study 2. We will train 100 proxies each in the two ethnic/language groups (Chinese-speaking Chinese and English-speaking Caucasian), and guide them as they use their training to help family members quit. We will then evaluate the feasibility of the training program.

These proposed studies can lead to future large-scale, randomized trials examining the effectiveness of family members’ involvement in smokers’ quitting processes. If proxy involvement proves useful, it could provide a new approach to helping smokers quit, an approach that would reach many of the smokers who do not seek professional help with quitting.

Non-smokers seeking help for smokers: A preliminary study
Periodical: Tobacco Control Index Medicus:
Authors: Zhu Sh, Nguyen QB, Cummins S, Wong S and Wightman ART
Yr: 2006 Vol: 15 Nbr: 2 Abs: Pg: 107-113

Non-smoking help for smokers: a preliminary study.
Periodical: Tobacco Control Index Medicus:
Authors: Zhu, S.-H., Nguyen, Q.B., Cummins, S., Wong, S., Wightman, V. ART
Yr: 2006 Vol: 15 Nbr: 2 Abs: Pg: 107-113