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Summary

Background

Concern about weight gain after quitting smoking is often cited as a barrier to smokers making a quit attempt or seeking treatment.

Aim

To identify whether smokers who are non-treatment seekers (NTS) are more concerned about weight gain and have lower confidence to maintain weight after quitting smoking as compared with treatment-seeking smokers (TS).

Methods

Participants were smokers recruited from Penn State Hershey Medical Center and family practice outpatient clinics. A total of 102 NTS and 186 TS, who participated in a smoking cessation trial, completed a survey regarding tobacco use, weight concern and diet. Stepwise logistic regression was used to identify variables associated with treatment seeking, overall and stratified by those who gained and did not gain weight on a previous quit attempt.

Results

Fifty three per cent of the overall sample (47.1% NTS vs. 56.5% TS, p = 0.127) had gained weight on a prior quit attempt. Among smokers who had gained weight, higher weight gain concern (WGC) and lower confidence in ability to maintain weight were significantly associated with being a NTS after adjusting for other factors.

Conclusion

Among smokers who gained weight on a previous quit attempt, NTS had greater concern about gaining weight and less confidence in their ability to maintain their weight after quitting than treatment seekers. Clinicians can identify smokers for whom WGC may be a barrier to seeking treatment by asking if they gained weight on a previous quit attempt. These smokers should be assured that this issue will be addressed in treatment.