Is this for real?! Smoking cessation groups for Muslim women in Baka-El-Gharbie
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Meuhedet Health Care, Northern District, Israel
Submission date: 2017-05-10
Acceptance date: 2017-05-10
Publication date: 2017-05-25
Corresponding author
Ameera Yahya   

Meuhedet Health Care, Northern District, Israel, Israel
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2017;3(May Supplement):48
Smoking prevalence in Israel is highest among Arab men (44% compared with 22.1% among Jews), and lowest among Arab women (6.7% compared with 15% among Jewish women). Smoking is socially unacceptable among women in the Arab population in general, and Muslims in particular. Muslim women are therefore "secret" smokers. The Aim of this project was to provide smoking cessation services within a safe environment for Muslim women. Our objective was to recruit these women into a smoking cessation group within our clinic, and support them throughout the process.

Material and Methods:
During 2013-2016 we proactively recruited women attending our clinic. The clinic serves 4,000 members, among them 700 women aged 25-65. Recruitment was conducted by all staff- physicians, nurses, social workers and administrative staff. This process was extremely sensitive, as the women's social and family relationships could be affected if their smoking status was exposed. In 2016 we succeeded in starting our first group with 9 women. The group was led by a social worker with significant experience in smoking cessation, and was conducted in Arabic.

Most of the women reported beginning to smoke after their marriage, encouraged by their husband. Half of them reported smoking while pregnant. Of 9 participants, 7 attended all 8 sessions. The two women who left the group did so because they were related, and had not known about each other's smoking. Five women did not smoke by the end of the group intervention, 2 of which continued taking smoking cessation medication for 6 months. This is unusual among Meuhedet group participants.

This study demonstrates the need for tailored smoking cessation recruitment and intervention among Muslim women in spite of the challenging recruitment process. It is essential to conduct individual preparation with each woman during the recruitment process to avoid social embarrassment.

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