With a $2.7 million research grant from the National Cancer Institute, Butler Hospital will begin a new 5-year smoking-cessation research study called Project FREE. Nicotine dependence is the most common form of addiction in the United States, claiming more than 5 million lives worldwide each year. When it comes to quitting smoking, current research shows traditional smoking cessation treatments, such as counseling and nicotine replacement products, can be very helpful; however, Project FREE will examine two additional tools that may improve a person's chances of remaining nicotine free for good.
Led by principal investigator Ana Abrantes, PhD, a research psychologist at Butler Hospital, study participants will be randomly assigned to one of two health-focused programs—either 12-weeks of aerobic exercise tailored to each participant's fitness level, or a 12-week health and wellness education program that teaches participants about the health effects of smoking and ways to live a healthier lifestyle. All participants will receive a physical health assessment, weekly smoking cessation counseling sessions by phone, nicotine patches, and access to expert clinicians that will monitor their mood during the study period.
A similar, smaller-scale preliminary study was conducted, and says Dr. Abrantes, "We found promising evidence that our aerobic exercise intervention, compared to a health education, was associated with increased odds of quitting smoking. We also found promising evidence that, regardless of intervention, increased levels of exercise was associated with decreased depressive symptoms. This finding led us to think about an important subgroup of smokers that are at particularly high risk of cessation failure — those with symptoms of depression," said Dr. Abrantes.
Project FREE will begin recruiting participants in January 2014. Both men and women between the ages of 18 and 65 who currently smoke at least 10 cigarettes a day and would like to quit smoking for good will be screened for study eligibility. Those interested can call (401) 455-6219 or visit ProjectFREE for more information.
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