The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adherence and outcomes of the varenicline-based smoking cessation (STOP FUMAT) program in Mureș county, Romania
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George Emil Palade University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science, and Technology of Targu Mures, Mures, Romania
Publication date: 2023-10-08
Corresponding author
Corina Marginean   

George Emil Palade University of Medicine, Pharmacy, Science, and Technology of Targu Mures, Mures, Romania
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2023;9(Supplement 2):A13
Romania has a high prevalence of adult smoking, necessitating effective cessation interventions like the STOP FUMAT program. Recent global events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, may influence smoking behavior and cessation attempts, posing challenges for public health interventions.

This study aims to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on treatment adherence, smoking cessation outcomes, and reasons for resuming smoking among participants in the STOP FUMAT program.

We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 98 participants who enrolled in the program between 2020 and 2021, using a phone-based survey. Variables of interest included demographic factors, health status, smoking behavior, completion of the smoking cessation treatment, and perception of the pandemic's impact on smoking behavior.

Treatment completion was not significantly associated with demographic or health characteristics. However, those who completed the treatment were more likely to believe in its efficacy (68.6% vs. 47.8%, p=0.038). Most patients resumed smoking within three months of treatment, with a significant difference between completers (42.1%) and non-completers (67.5%, p=0.014). Stress and the COVID-19 pandemic were major reasons for smoking resumption, and those who felt affected by the pandemic expressed a stronger desire to re-engage with the program.

The pandemic did not significantly impact treatment adherence, but it influenced patients' smoking behavior and perceptions. The study underlines the importance of addressing stress-related triggers for smoking and communicating the benefits of treatment, particularly during global crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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