CECHE Center for Communications, Health and the Environment
Winter 2002 Vol. 10, Issue 1
Partnerships Promote Global Health
Russian Cancer Center to Motivate, Train Doctors in Tobacco Control

Tobacco billboards "push" smoking in Russia.

Russia has one of the highest smoking prevalences in the world: 63 percent of men and 10 percent of women there smoke. Sadly, the percentage of smoking women aged 20-29 in Russia rose from 10 percent in 1985 to 30 percent in 2000, while overall tobacco consumption in the country is increasing 1.5 to 2 percent per year. Already, 30 percent of total male deaths and 4 percent of total female deaths in the country can be attributed to smoking..

Despite this health and human toll, however, efforts to control tobacco use in Russia are minimal and, for the most part, ineffective. In fact, the effect of tobacco addiction is underestimated, and little cessation help is provided in-country – with no professional cessation counseling or assistance available in the national public health service at all. Moreover, smoking prevalence among Russian physicians mirrors that of the general population, hence the majority of them cannot model non-smoking behavior and maintain little or no interest in providing smoking cessation counseling to patients. Ironically, these same physicians may be the best source of a clear, strong and personalized cessation, or for that matter smoking prevention, message, especially since health professionals (doctors in particular) are traditionally perceived as the most valuable, credible and reliable source of health information (Fowler, 1997).

There is a critical need for cost-effective, popular, available and applicable methods to encourage and train physicians in the Russian Federation to champion smoking cessation among patients.

The Russian Cancer Research Center is answering the call and is partnering with the Moscow Health Education Center, Russian Public Health Association and CECHE to design and implement a comprehensive 18-month program to motivate and train Russian physicians in smoking cessation assistance and noticeably enhance the number of knowledgeable, skilled tobacco-control clinicians in the country. This program will include the development, implementation and dissemination of:

  • A cross-sectional survey of 1,000 physicians in 15 Moscow clinics
  • A three-hour seminar in smoking cessation counseling
  • A three-day course on tobacco-related health problems, tobacco-control measures, and methods of tobacco dependence treatment
  • A manual for physicians with strategies and science-based methods for treating patients who smoke.

Five seminars and one course will be conducted per year. About 50 physicians will participate in each seminar, and about 20 physicians with particular interest in tobacco control and methods for treating tobacco dependence and nicotine addiction will participate in each course. The manual will be published, with 5000 copies disseminated throughout the medical community via the seminars, courses and participating clinics.

The ultimate goal of the project is to effect a drop in smoking prevalence and a corresponding rise in health benefits and life span among the Russian population. As Russians queue to quit, the partners plan to expand the program to other regions of the Russian Federation. [back to front page....]

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