How does reimbursement status affect smoking cessation interventions? A real-life experience from the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey

Tob Induc Dis. 2019 Jan 22;17:05. doi: 10.18332/tid/100412. eCollection 2019.


Introduction: In the last decade, outpatient smoking cessation clinics (SCCs) in Turkey have been extended countrywide. Initially, only counseling was covered under health insurance. In 2011 and 2015, free varenicline and bupropion preparations were distributed to SCCs, periodically. In the current study we aimed to compare outcomes between the free and paid medication periods.

Methods: Patients applied to the local SCC in a secondary health care unit between June 2014 and June 2017. They were evaluated for SC interventions and had phone visits after their third month; these records were included in the study. Patients were grouped and evaluated according to medication's reimbursement status: free medication period (FP) and paid medication period (PMP).

Results: In total, 733 patients applied to the SCC, 77.7% of them had applied during the FP. Analyses were made involving 417 patients who had records of third-month phone visit. Mean age of the patients was 44.0±13.7 years with the majority of patients (65%) being male. Sociodemographic characteristics of patients in both groups were not statistically different, while the percentage of patients with comorbid diseases was lower in the FP group (p<0.05). Treatment choices were different- the bupropion-prescribed group's rate was similar in both periods (53.5% in PMP vs 52.0% in FP), however varenicline was mostly prescribed in the FP (35.8% vs 14.1%) while nicotine replacement therapy was mostly prescribed in the PMP (32.4% vs 12.1%) (p<0.05). Patients who used the advised treatment for at least 30 days (treatment adherent) and the rate of quitters at the third month were higher in FP (p<0.05) from univariate analysis, however these differences were not statistically significant when a multivariate analysis was performed.

Conclusions: Our study showed that the free medication period increased the quit attempts but the increased in treatment adherence and quit success of the participating smokers was not obvious.

Keywords: insurance coverage; quit success; reimbursement; smoking cessation; treatment adherence.