NIH Project to Develop a Tobacco Cessation for People with Disabilities

Published: May 19th, 2011

Category: Faculty News

Dr. Jamie Pomeranz, Principal Investigator

The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines “low income” individuals as those who are living at or below the Federal poverty level or families making less than $21,000 per year. Unfortunately, members of low-income populations remain at high risk for tobacco use, as well as multiple other problematic health-related behaviors, and thus suffer disproportionately from tobacco-related illnesses. These issues pose serious problems for one low income population who are already addressing health-related conditions-people with disabilities (PWD). Approximately 50 million people living in the U.S. has some form of disability, with 76% of people with severe disabilities making less than $20,000 per year. PWD tend to receive less education, rely more on state/federal assistance, have government issued health insurance, and are more likely to live below the national poverty line.
Additionally, PWD are approximately 50% more likely to smoke cigarettes than those individuals without a disability. Unfortunately, due to their narrow margins of health, smokers with disabilities are more vulnerable to the adverse health effects of tobacco. Although PWD have greater tobacco-related health risks, research shows that PWD receive less preventive smoking cessation counseling from their primary care physicians than their non-disabled counterparts. This barrier is partially due to physicians’ pre-occupation with the underlying disabling condition (rather than tobacco cessation) and as well as insufficient training for interacting with PWD. In addition to physician-related barriers, persons with cognitive, affective, or sensory impairments may have difficulty obtaining, understanding or remembering cessation materials. Furthermore, due to functional limitations, PWD are often confronted with economic, logistical, architectural and attitudinal obstacles to primary and preventive care measures such as tobacco cessation treatment.
The purpose of this project is to develop a tobacco cessation program designed by and for individuals with disabilities. We are currently conducting Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to adapt and test a tobacco cessation group treatment program for PWD. Consumers with disabilities who use tobacco will are currently being recruited from multiple centers for independent living (CIL) within North Central Florida. CILs provide immediate and long-term solutions for PWD through assistance with finding housing or a job, equipping a home with assistive technologies, or enhancing independent living skills. Although CILs typically lack tobacco cessation programs, strong preliminary data collected by our research team suggests that tobacco cessation is a high priority among CIL directors.

To view Dr. Pomeranz’ recent presentation on the current status of this project please clink the link below:

Collaboration Presentation