Characteristics of cancer patients entering a smoking cessation program and correlates of quit motivation: implications for the development of tobacco control programs for cancer patients

Psychooncology. 2004 May;13(5):346-58. doi: 10.1002/pon.756.


Even though survival and quality of life are adversely affected by smoking among cancer patients, about one-third of cancer patients who smoked prior to their diagnosis continue to smoke. One barrier to the provision of smoking cessation treatments to cancer patients is the paucity of data on the characteristics of cancer patients who continue to smoke and a lack of data on correlates of quit motivation in this population. This descriptive study assessed demographic, medical, smoking history, and psychological characteristics of cancer patients in a smoking cessation program (N=111) and examined these characteristics as correlates of quit motivation. Methods used by patients to quit smoking were also queried. We found that: (1) most patients are Caucasian, married, diagnosed with head and neck (versus lung) cancer, highly addicted to nicotine, and in the contemplation or preparation stage of change; (2) most patients attempt to quit smoking without formal treatment, although 33-50% have used the transdermal nicotine patch, nicotine gum, or bupropion; (3) depressive symptoms, low quitting self-efficacy, low perceived risk, and low perceived benefits of quitting are prevalent among patients, but most patients do not endorse the perceived disadvantages of quitting or fatalistic beliefs; and (4) quit motivation is associated with higher quitting self-efficacy, risk perceptions, and perceived benefits of quitting, lower tobacco use and nicotine addiction, and shorter time since diagnosis. These findings can help guide the development of smoking cessation interventions for cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / complications*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / psychology
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications*
  • Lung Neoplasms / psychology
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Perception
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Efficacy
  • Smoking Cessation*