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Barriers to smoking cessation: a qualitative study from the perspective of primary care in Malaysia

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-12-16, 11:26 authored by Kooi-Yau Chean, Lee Gan Goh, Kah-Weng Liew, Chia-Chia Tan, Xin-Ling Choi, Kean-Chye Tan, Siew-Ting Ooi

Objectives: This qualitative study aims to construct a model of the barriers to smoking cessation in the primary care setting.

Design: Individual in-depth, semistructured interviews were audio-taped, then verbatim transcribed and translated when necessary. The data were first independently coded and then collectively discussed for emergent themes using the Straussian grounded theory method.

Participants and setting: Fifty-seven current smokers were recruited from a previous smoking related study carried out in a primary care setting in Malaysia. Current smokers with at least one failed quit attempts were included.

Results: A five-theme model emerged from this grounded theory method. (1) Personal and lifestyle factors: participants were unable to resist the temptation to smoke; (2) Nicotine addiction: withdrawal symptoms could not be overcome; (3) Social cultural norms: participants identified accepting cigarettes from friends as a token of friendship to be problematic; (4) Misconception: perception among smokers that ability to quit was solely based on one's ability to achieve mind control, and perception that stopping smoking will harm the body and (5) Failed assisted smoking cessation: smoking cessation services were not felt to be user-friendly and were poorly understood. The themes were organised into five concentric circles based on time frame: those actionable in the short term (themes 1 and 2) and the long term (themes 3, 4, 5).

Conclusions: Five themes of specific beliefs and practices prevented smokers from quitting. Clinicians need to work on these barriers, which can be guided by the recommended time frames to help patients to succeed in smoking cessation.



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Published Citation

Chean KY. et al. Barriers to smoking cessation: a qualitative study from the perspective of primary care in Malaysia. BMJ Open. 2019;9(7):e025491.

Publication Date

9 July 2019

PubMed ID



BMJ Publishing Group Ltd


  • Published Version (Version of Record)