The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening for patients at high risk based on age and smoking history. Understanding the characteristics of patients attending lung cancer screening, including potential barriers to quitting smoking, may inform ways to engage these high-risk patients in tobacco treatment and address health disparities. Patients attending lung cancer screening who currently smoke cigarettes completed a survey at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven (N = 74) and the Medical University of South Carolina (N = 73) at the time of their appointment. The survey assessed demographics, smoking history, and perceptions and concerns about quitting smoking.
Patients were 55 to 76 years old (mean = 63.3, SD = 5.3), N = 64 (43.5%) female, and N = 31 (21.1%) non-Hispanic Black. Patients smoked 16.3 cigarettes per day on average (SD = 9.2) and rated interest in quitting smoking in the next month as moderate (mean = 5.6, SD = 3.1, measured from 0 = “very definitely no” to 10 = “very definitely yes”). The most frequently endorsed concerns about quitting smoking were missing smoking (70.7%), worry about having strong urges to smoke (63.9%), and concerns about withdrawal symptoms (59.9%). In comparison with other races/ethnicities, Black patients were less likely to report concerns about withdrawal symptoms and more likely to report smoking less now and perceiving no need to quit. Findings identified specific barriers for tobacco treatment and differences by race/ethnicity among patients attending lung cancer screening, including concerns about withdrawal symptoms and perceived need to quit. Identifying ways to promote tobacco treatment is important for reducing morbidity and mortality among this high-risk population.
The current study examines patient characteristics and tobacco treatment perceptions and barriers among patients attending lung cancer screening who continue to smoke cigarettes that may help inform ways to increase treatment engagement and address tobacco-related health disparities to reduce morbidity and mortality from smoking.