Understanding cancer patients’ desire to quit tobacco without assistance: A mixed-methods study

Tia Borger, Abigayle R. Feather, Kathleen E. Wakeman, William Bowling, Jessica L. Burris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While many cancer patients who use tobacco try to quit post-diagnosis, some prefer to quit without using tobacco treatment, despite evidence against unassisted quit attempts. This study aimed to understand the rationale for some cancer patients’ desire to quit tobacco without assistance. Thirty-five adult cancer patients who currently used tobacco and declined tobacco treatment because of the desire to quit unassisted provided data via a standardized questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. The sample was predominately White, non-Hispanic (85.71%) and female (68.57%). The most common cancer site was gynecological. Key themes that emerged from the interviews were: self-reliance, willpower, social norms, and negative attitudes toward tobacco treatment. The most frequently endorsed barrier to tobacco treatment was “I know others who have quit without tobacco treatment” (82.86%). This study with cancer patients identified affective, cognitive, and personality factors related to quitting unassisted, and social and systemic reasons to not use tobacco treatment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • Cancer
  • health behavior
  • tobacco cessation
  • tobacco treatment
  • treatment refusal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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