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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versión On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versión impresa ISSN 0256-9574


TADZIMIRWA, G Y et al. Challenges for dedicated smoking cessation services in developing countries. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2019, vol.109, n.6, pp.431-436. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND. South Africa, ranked as the world's second most stressful country to live in, has an estimated 7 million smokers. A dedicated smoking cessation clinic established at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, provides the only clinical service and training centre in the country. Objectives. To evaluate the smokers attending the clinic, in order to better understand the requirements of smoking cessation services in resource-limited settings. METHODS. Demographic and smoking-related data were collected prospectively from all clinic attendees since its inception. Nicotine dependence, depression scores and exhaled carbon monoxide levels were formally evaluated. Consent was provided to review the data collected. RESULTS. Ninety-seven smokers were evaluated. Their mean (standard deviation) age was 50.9 (10.7) years, and 59% (57/97) were male. The median age of smoking initiation was 16 years (interquartile range (IQR) 8 - 28), with a current median daily consumption of 12 cigarettes (IQR 7 - 20). Overall, men smoked more than women, with a median of 20 cigarettes per day (IQR 10 - 20) v. 12 (IQR 5 - 20), respectively (p=0.001). The median Fagerstrom nicotine dependence score was 5 (IQR 3 - 7), with scores of 6 (IQR 4 - 8) for men and 5 (2 - 7) for women (p=0.06); 50% of smokers had a Fagerstrom score <6 (low to above-average dependence) and 22% a score >8 (extreme dependence). The median Patient Health Questionnnaire-9 (PHQ-9) depression score was 8 (IQR 4 - 11), and 49% of smokers had symptoms of at least minor depression (score >10). The clinic could not provide pharmacotherapy. The self-reported quit rate was 28% at median follow-up of 22 months (IQR 14 - 39). CONCLUSIONS. In smokers attempting to quit, moderate levels of nicotine dependence coexist with significant depression and anxiety symptoms. These data inform resource allocation and public health strategies, suggesting that in resource-limited smoking cessation services, psychological/behavioural support focusing on depressive symptoms may be a greater priority than simple pharmacotherapy.

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