The purpose of the Gaps Analysis was to determine the availability, reach and accessibility of smoking cessation programs and services in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. The report sought to answer the question: who is falling through the cracks and what can we do about it? During the gaps analysis process such questions as what services are smokers aware of, what have they used and how satisfied were they with the product or service, and what would they like to see available were addressed.
By identifying gaps in cessation services, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph can make better use of limited resources and focus efforts on the most effective way to help residents of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph quit smoking.
Overview of Methods
The methods used in the gaps analysis included an Environmental Scan and Community Feedback Surveys. The Environmental Scan consisted of a thorough search of smoking cessation programs and resources at both a provincial and local level, as well as interviews with Key Informants to determine the strengths and weaknesses of local resources and services. Community feedback surveys were conducted with tobacco users in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph both by telephone and online.
The survey of tobacco users showed that close to half of all smokers across WDG did not make a single quit attempt in the past twelve months. There is strong supporting evidence that shows increasing quit attempts is an effective way to have an impact on the smoking rate at a population health level. Thus, there is a need in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph to increase quit attempts among tobacco users.
Young adults in WDG, when compared to older age categories, had a higher proportion of occasional smokers yet they make more quit attempts. Nevertheless younger adults intend to quit in the longer term. Given the addictive nature of nicotine, there is a need to understand and focus on young adults to ensure that cessation services are catered to their needs.
Tobacco users across WDG showed a low level of awareness of quit smoking services in the community, with the City of Guelph having the lowest rate of awareness. Key informants identified awareness as low as well. Awareness of services needs to be increased across WDG by supporting provincial campaigns and/or developing local campaigns.
Cessation services across WDG are generally accessible. Smokers Helpline is a free provincial telephone hotline but is an underutilized resource across all of WDG. Participants indicated that the cost of quit aides is a barrier to quitting and some residents of WDG cannot access low cost nicotine replacement therapy.
Best practice guidelines support the use of nicotine replacement therapy and/or medications to quit smoking. The use of NRT and medication to quit is low in WDG with NRT use being lowest in Guelph and use of medication lowest in Dufferin. There may be opportunities to better collaborate with community partners to increase access to available community resources.
- Quit attempts need to increase in WDG to have an impact on smoking rates. WDGPH should support regional and provincial efforts to increase quit attempts, including a provincial media campaign. WDGPH should consider local strategies to increase quit attempts.
- WDGPH should support a provincial or regional cessation strategy for young adults.
- WDGPH should develop a comprehensive plan to increase awareness of local services among tobacco users and health care professionals. The plan should include promoting Smokers Helpline.
- WDGPH should continue efforts to build strength within the existing system, especially by improving access to free NRT. WDGPH should find innovative ways to reach those people not covered by the current system. This could include offering STOP on the Road and/or partnering with the FHTs to find ways to have non-rostered patients access to STOP with FHT.
- WDGPH should work towards improving the use best practice quit aides such as NRT and medications among tobacco users making a quit attempt.
- WDGPH should raise awareness of electronic cigarettes not being a proven cessation aide.
- WDGPH should continue efforts to increase the number of health care providers who systematize tobacco interventions in their practice. The focus should be on pharmacy professionals.