GALLIPOLIS — Quitting is never easy — for smokers, that is. Adults in Gallia County who smoke but want to quit can now get help through a research partnership between The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Public Health, Gallia County Health Department and OSU Extension in Gallia County. Organizers report that there are 19 slots still available for eligible participants.
Gwen McGraw, RN, public health nurse with the Gallia County Health Department, explained that there are currently 40 participants involved in the study, but 19 more are being actively sought.
To participate in the project, an prospect must be a resident of Gallia County, 18 years old or older and having no recent major health issues. A participant must be a daily smoker and not pregnant. Men and women can participate but must not currently be taking medication specifically for the purpose of quitting smoking. Prospects must also be willing to attempt to quit smoking in the next month through the use of one-on-one support through OSU Lay Health Advisor Marion Cochran and nicotine patches provided free of charge through the program. Participants will also receive a small gift card after each data collection.
“Some people like having that accountability,” said McGraw regarding the one-on-one support. “She’s like a cheerleader. They say it helps them in the process.”
Cochran said that the process is new to many participants.
“It’s definitely a different approach than anything they’ve done before,” said Cochran. “I think they like the counseling sessions so they have a chance to talk about their struggles. It’s added a whole different dimension than simply, ‘here, take these patches’.”
In addition to the hopeful goal of smoking cession in Gallia County, the purpose of the study is to find out how effective this two-pronged approach is in meeting this goal. Gallia County is one of six counties Appalachian Ohio selected to participate in this project, in part because of the high rate of smoking. According to the 2008 Ohio Family Health Survey, more than 34 percent of adults in Gallia County smoke. In contrast, the statewide smoking rate in Ohio for the same time frame was just over 20 percent.
“It’s important that we collect this data even if each participant isn’t successful in quitting,” said McGraw.
The study is funded by the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. Anyone interested in participating in the study should contact Cochran at (740) 853-3136. For general questions, contact the nursing staff at the Gallia County Health Department at (740) 441-2950.