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New Moms Find Smoking-Cessation Info from Nurses Helpful

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Posted: 3/9/2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio – New mothers who quit smoking during pregnancy and later received smoking-cessation information from home-health nurses were more likely to remain smoke free, a new study shows.

Previous studies have shown that up to 40 percent of smokers will kick the habit during pregnancy, but they don’t stay nonsmokers for long. Within one month, almost 60 percent of those who quit have relapsed, and that figure jumps to 70 percent after six months.

Ohio State University researchers wondered if having home-health nurses offer positive reinforcement and encouragement about the importance of staying smoke free after delivery would lower the relapse rate of the new mothers.

“The study found that women who learned about the dangers of smoking from visiting nurses were about 2 1/2 times more likely to remain smoke free compared to women who had not received a home visit by the nurse,” said Karen Ahijevych, a researcher at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

“Often, new mothers will relapse within the first week. This is a critical time, and they often seek comfort in cigarettes to ease the stresses of caring for a newborn,” she said.

The findings appear in the Journal of Community Health Nursing.

“It’s very important for the health of the mother and her baby to quit smoking during pregnancy, and it’s equally important to remain smoke free after having the baby,” said study co-author Ahijevych. “Second-hand smoke can lead to increased ear infections, asthma episodes and other respiratory problems for infants.”

Participants were women who had recently given birth, had quit smoking during pregnancy and had been smoke free for at least seven days. A total of 121 women enrolled, and 78 women received a single home visit by a nurse.

During each visit, the nurse spent about 12 minutes discussing the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke to a new mom and her infant. Six months later, almost all participants could recall the home visit, and nearly two-thirds could recall discussing tobacco use.

During the personal visit and two follow-up phone calls, the specially trained nurses discussed issues that can affect smoking behavior, such as the presence of other smokers in the home, maternal stress, social support, stress reduction and depression.

If the participant had already resumed smoking, the nurse helped her to establish a “quit date” and helped to prevent another relapse. Training sessions for the nurses covered topics such as nicotine addiction, smoking and stress, environmental tobacco smoke and child health and behavioral skill training, said Ahijevych, who is an associate professor in the college of nursing at Ohio State.

Of the 78 women who received the first home visit within one week of delivery, 68 (87 percent) reported at that time that they were still smoke free and 10 (13 percent) reported they had resumed smoking.

Incorporating smoking cessation information into the nurses’ regimen during home visits could help reduce health-care costs for new moms and their children, Ahijevych said. Previous studies have shown that children under the age of 2 who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke often incur excess health expenditures of $175 each year.

“This study shows that it is feasible for home-health nurses to deliver smoking-cessation information to new mothers,” Ahijevych said. “This could be incorporated into any home-health program. The women who participated found it to be very positive, and not intrusive. They felt the time devoted to the topic was appropriate and helpful.”

Other Ohio State researchers involved were Dr. Judith Groner, Gina French and Mary Ellen Wewers.

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation “Smoke-Free Families” grant funded the study.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute is one of the nation’s leading centers for research on the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The OSUCCC – James encompasses six interdisciplinary research programs and includes more than 200 investigators who generate over $100 million annually in external funding. It is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and OSU’s James Cancer Hospital is consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best hospitals for cancer care.

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Eileen Scahill
Medical Center Communications

Addiction Medicine at Talbot Hall; Community Programs; James Cancer Hospital; OSU Medical Center; Researchers; Smoking Cessation