TSET HPRC researcher receives federal grant to help low-income Oklahomans quit smoking


Credit: OU Health

OKLAHOMA CITY -Darla Kendzor, Ph.D., co-director of the TSET Health Promotion Research Center, was recently awarded a 5-year, $3.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate the effectiveness of an automated, smartphone-based approach to incentivizing smoking cessation among low-income adults in Oklahoma.

Kendzor’s past work has uncovered the detrimental impact that financial stress, neighborhood problems, and discrimination can have on smoking cessation. Recently, her work has focused on developing and evaluating practical and effective smoking cessation interventions for vulnerable Oklahomans.

Lung cancer, primarily caused by smoking, is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and is far more prevalent among lower income adults. Kendzor and others have shown that offering small monetary incentives for quitting smoking can dramatically increase smoking cessation rates among socioeconomically disadvantaged adults, especially when incentives are paired with clinic-based treatment. However, many adults are unable or unwilling to attend regular clinic visits, particularly those who live in rural areas; thus, innovative approaches are needed to reach people outside of the clinic setting.

“My team has developed an automated, smartphone-based approach to rewarding smoking cessation that will allow us to reach people across the state with an effective intervention, regardless of their proximity to the clinic,” Kendzor explained. “Our hope is that this treatment will help to reduce the high rate of smoking in Oklahoma and prevent tobacco-related diseases.”

This study will enroll 532 low-income Oklahomans. Participants will be randomly assigned to either standard care – telephone counseling and mailed nicotine patches/lozenges – or standard care plus monetary payments for abstinence. All participants will be followed from one week before quitting, through 26 weeks after the quit date to determine the longer-term impact of the intervention on smoking cessation. No office visits are required, since all participants will receive counseling by telephone and nicotine replacement therapy by mail.

“Our smartphone app will ask participants to provide breath samples to verify smoking abstinence, and facial recognition software will be used to verify participant identity when they provide breath samples,” said Kendzor. Incentives will be automatically added to the participant’s reloadable credit card when smoking abstinence and identity are verified. The cost-effectiveness of this approach will be evaluated to determine whether this approach should be disseminated throughout the United States via smoking cessation helplines and other venues.
This innovative study could increase the reach of a potentially effective and cost-effective smoking cessation intervention to those who need it most. To find more information about the study, call (405) 271-QUIT or visit 271quit.com

This research was primarily supported by National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant R01CA251451
(to D.E. Kendzor). Additional support was provided by Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust Grant R21-02, and the Mobile Health Technology Shared Resource, which is a component of the NCI Cancer Center Support Grant P30CA225520 awarded to the Stephenson Cancer Center.



OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center is Oklahoma’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Center. It was named Oklahoma’s top facility for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 rankings. Stephenson Cancer Center is one of the nation’s elite centers, representing the top 2% of cancer centers in the country. It is the largest and most comprehensive oncology practice in the state, delivering patient-centered, multidisciplinary care for every type of cancer. As one of the nation’s leading research organizations, Stephenson Cancer Center uses the latest innovations to fight and eliminate cancer, and is currently ranked No. 1 among all cancer centers in the nation for the number of patients participating in clinical trials sponsored by the NCI’s National Clinical Trials Network. For more information, visit stephensoncancercenter.org.


OU Health is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system of hospitals, clinics and centers of excellence. With 11,000 employees and more than 1,300 physicians and advanced practice providers, OU Health is home to Oklahoma’s largest doctor network with a complete range of specialty care. OU Health serves Oklahoma and the region with the state’s only freestanding children’s hospital, the only National Cancer Institute-Designated OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center and Oklahoma’s flagship hospital, which serves as the state’s only Level 1 trauma center. Becker’s Hospital Review named University of Oklahoma Medical Center one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America for 2020. OU Health’s oncology program at OU Health Stephenson Cancer Center was named Oklahoma’s top facility for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report in its 2020-21 rankings. OU Health also was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as high performing in these specialties: Colon Surgery, COPD and Congestive Heart Failure. OU Health’s mission is to lead healthcare in patient care, education and research. To learn more, visit ouhealth.com.

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April Sandefer

Source: bioengineer.org

TSET HPRC researcher receives federal grant to help low-income Oklahomans quit smoking