WVU researcher awarded $1.1 million to establish new smoking cessation model

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –   A West Virginia University researcher received a five-year, $1.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute for studies that could lead to more effective smoking cessation treatments.

Thaddeus Herzog, Ph.D., of the WVU Department of Community Medicine and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center is investigating the various levels of motivation people have to quit smoking and how best to classify that motivation. 

Accurately measuring motivation to quit could lead to smoking cessation treatments that are tailored to match a smoker’s level of motivation.

Herzog studies the thoughts and behaviors of smokers and contrasts his research findings with the assumptions underlying a popular smoking cessation model known as the Transtheoretical Model (TTM).

TTM is based on the “stages of change,” which classifies smokers into three groups based on their degree of motivation to quit.  Doctors and psychologists then design interventions to aid smokers in quitting based on how they are classified.  

“There’s no doubt that some smokers are more motivated to quit than others,” Herzog said.  “Proponents of TTM assert that 40 percent of smokers are not motivated to quit; however, my research demonstrates that only 10 percent of smokers are not motivated to quit.”

“The measurement discrepancy could have treatment implications because many smokers currently receive TTM–based treatments that are not well suited to their needs,” Herzog said.  “It would be like giving an advanced swimmer lessons more fitting of a beginner.  My research has led me to propose what I consider to be a more accurate smoker classification system.”

Herzog’s research will use smoking cessation booklets to provide information to nearly two thousand smokers based on their motivation to quit smoking.  Participants will be randomly assigned to either the traditional TTM-based cessation program, or to a cessation program based on Herzog’s new alternative smoker classification system. 

Participants will be assessed for smoking status and motivation to quit two weeks and two months after receiving the booklets.  The results will help to determine if Herzog’s new classification system leads to better smoking cessation outcomes. 

Herzog, who earned his Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University, has been researching smoking cessation and health behavior issues for 11 years. 

Kimberly Horn, Ed.D., also of WVU’s Department of Community Medicine and the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, is a co-investigator of the study.

For more information on the WVU Department of Community Medicine, visit www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed/.                                                

- WVU -

For more information:
Cassie Waugh, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087
cw/ds: 02-19-08

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