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Opening Ceremony of HKU’s Youth Quitline Centre
Opening Ceremony of HKU’s Youth Quitline CentreThe Smoking Cessation Research Team of School of Nursing, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) has been granted by the Tobacco Control Office, Department of Health to provide youth cessation hotline for youngsters aged 25 or below. The opening ceremony was officiated by Dr York CHOW, Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Raymong HO, Head of Tobacco Control Office, Professor Sophia CHAN, Project Director of the Youth Quitline and Professor of School of Nursing, HKU, Prof TH LAM, Sir Robert Kotewall Professor in Public Health, Director of School of Public Health, HKU and Ms Lisa LAU, Chairman of COSH yesterday (15 March 2012)

The Smoking Cessation Research Team of School of Nursing, The University of Hong Kong (HKU), in collaboration with the School of Public Health, the Department of Social Work and Social Administration of HKU and the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, established the first youth-oriented smoking cessation hotline ‘Youth Quitline 2855 9557’ in 2005.

Professor Sophia CHAN Siu-chee, Project Director of the Youth Quitline (YQ) and Professor of School of Nursing, HKU expressed that the Youth Quitline, since its establishment in 2005, have received 3,732 telephone inquiries and provided telephone smoking cessation counseling for 741 youth smokers. Among them, 180 (24%) quitted successfully. They have already trained a group of 34 HKU students to be “Youth Smoking Cessation Counselor (YSCC)” and now providing more intensive telephone follow-up counseling to support youth to maintain smoking abstinence.

The relationship between depressive symptoms, youth smoking and quitting

At the opening ceremony, the School of Nursing, HKU also presented the findings on the relationship between youth smoking and presence of depressive symptoms. Among the 578 youth smokers who received YQ service from March 2006 to May 2011, 47% (273/578) had different levels of depressive symptoms. Among the female callers, 54% (81/151) female had depressive symptoms, compared to 45% (192/427) in male who had depressive symptoms.

The study revealed that smokers with depressive symptoms had a higher level of nicotine dependency. Although they had similar levels of intention to quit smoking compared with those who had no depressive symptoms, they perceived lower confidence in successful quitting and higher level of difficulty in quitting. At 6-month follow up, only 10.6% (5/47) of youth smokers who have notable depressive symptoms stopped smoking (no smoking in the past 7 days), while the successful rate of youth smokers without depressive symptoms is 32.3% (111/345) (assumed all lost to follow-up did not change their smoking behaviour). Youth smokers with notable depressive symptoms required a longer period of time (an average of 15 days after receiving telephone counseling) to initiate a quit attempt, and more prone to smoking relapse as only 18% could sustain smoking abstinence for about seven days or above.

A group of dynamic and caring HKU students have been trained as peer counselors and they will be providing a Youth-to-Youth counseling service to the smokers. As they are of similar age as the youth smokers, they have a more thorough understanding on the pressure that the youth are facing. Through counseling, the youth smokers can quit smoking and have been provided with advice on how to prevent relapse, but also help them release their negative emotions and give them encouragement. At 6-month follow-up, there is a drop of 7.2% (from 47.2% to 40%) in the number of youth with depressive symptoms. The quitline operates 5 – 9pm on weekdays and 2 – 8pm over weekends. Voice mails will be recorded during non-operation hours and public holidays.

Source : LI Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong
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