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A qualitative study assessing how reach and participation can be improved in workplace smoking cessation programs.

Poole, N.L., Nagelhout, G.E., Magnée, T., Haan, Bouma, L.C.I. de, Barendregt, C., Schayck, O.C.P. van, Brand, F.A. van den. A qualitative study assessing how reach and participation can be improved in workplace smoking cessation programs. Tobacco Prevention & Cessation: 2023, 9, p. Art. nr. 07.
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Randomized controlled trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of workplace smoking cessation programs. However, with low participation rates reported, it is important to understand the barriers and facilitators for the reach and participation of employees in workplace smoking cessation programs. The objective of the present study is to uncover the needs of employees regarding reach and participation when implementing a workplace program to address smoking cessation.

We carried out 19 semi-structured qualitative interviews in 2019 based on the Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance (RE-AIM) Framework with current and former smoking employees of organizations with ≥100 employees in the Netherlands. Some of the interviewees had experience with a cessation program. Data were analyzed using the Framework method.

The main barriers according to employees were insufficient promotion of the cessation program, completing the program in the employee's own time and working night shifts and peak hours. Facilitators included being actively approached to participate by a colleague, positive reactions from colleagues about employee's participation in the program, providing the program on location and integrating the program as part of the organization's vitality policy.

Effective workplace programs for smoking cessation can stimulate cessation but implementers often experience low participation rates. Our study presents recommendations to improve the recruitment and participation of employees in a workplace smoking cessation program, such as using active communication strategies, training managers to stimulate smoking employees to participate and making the program as accessible as possible by reimbursing time spent and offering the program at the workplace or nearby. Integrating the smoking cessation program into wider company vitality policy will also aid continued provision of the program.