Purpose: Smoking is a major cause of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), yet many patients who receive a diagnosis continue to smoke. This has an adverse effect on treatment and recovery, and leads to increased risks of recurrence and second cancers. There is evidence that stopping smoking after diagnosis can lead to better outcomes and reversal of risks. However, there is limited evidence for effective smoking cessation interventions in this population, and little about patient opinions regarding quitting smoking and support provided by healthcare professionals.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted as part of a larger project with the objective of developing a smoking cessation support programme. Eleven patients who had completed head and neck cancer (HNC) treatment were interviewed about smoking and quitting attempts. Interviews were semi-structured and took place face-to-face or over the phone.
Results: Participants gave detailed accounts of their smoking journey. Thematic analysis of the data led to the identification of 2 overarching themes and four interlinking themes. Themes describe the ‘guilty habit’ of smoking, perceived ‘barriers to quit’ the ‘teachable moment’ of a diagnosis and the contrary ‘social motivation’ to both smoke and quit.
Conclusions: The results of this study highlight some missed needs for this group and major gaps in the support that is available. It is intended that the results will be used to develop a support programme for quitting smoking long term in a way that is useful and relevant to this complex population.
- Head and neck cancer
- Smoking cessation
- Thematic analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas