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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers Professor Examines Algorithm-Guided Smoking Cessation in Persons Living with HIV

Rutgers School of Public Health professor Dr. Pamela Valera, lead author, and colleagues from other institutions conducted a pilot study whose results suggest that algorithm-based treatments may be effective in supporting HIV-positive patients as they try to quit smoking cigarettes.

[Photo: Dr. Pamela Valera]

Dr. Valera’s colleagues, including senior author and mentor, Dr. Karen Cropsey, randomized 100 participants into one of two groups: some received algorithm-based treatment (AT), while others were instructed to talk to a provider about cessation assistance when they were ready to make a quit attempt (treatment as usual, or TAU). Participants who received AT were given a specialized treatment plan tailored to both their medical history and prior attempts to quit.

Results varied by race: White smokers were more successful in the AT-guided smoking cessation group compared to the TAU group. Moreover, White smokers who wanted to quit completely saw higher quit rates than those who set some other goal, while African Americans reported markedly higher success quitting completely when total cessation was not their primary intent. Notably, African American participants were more likely than White respondents to use other tobacco products during their quit attempts, like little cigars or cigarillos.

Understanding how race influences smoking cessation is important for clinicians who provide smoking cessation intervention to people living with HIV. Differences in the type of tobacco use, as well as the types of goals tobacco users set with respect to curbing that use, can critical in choosing a tobacco cessation plan for a patient. While further research is needed to generalize these results across race and ethnicity, encouraging HIV care providers to utilize AT-guided smoking cessation plans might improve health outcomes among both African American and White smokers living with HIV.

“A Pilot Trial Examining African American and White Responses to Algorithm-Guided Smoking Cessation Medication Selection in Persons Living with HIV” was recently published in AIDS and Behavior.