2014 Eastern Europe Nurses’ Centre of Excellence for Tobacco Control (EE-COE)

Smoking is a major contributor of all cause mortality in Eastern Europe (EE), yet, smoking prevalence remains high (30% or more of the adult population smokes). Nurses are uniquely positioned to offer smoking cessation interventions but need additional education and skills to effectively intervene with patients. Additionally, nurses in Eastern Europe have a high prevalence of smoking themselves, equal or higher than the smoking prevalence of the general population.

As the largest group of health care professionals, with an estimated 19 million nurses worldwide, nurses are in an ideal position to play an important role in tobacco control. Eastern Europe has experienced particular difficulty in engaging healthcare providers in tobacco control – a role that nurses could easily fulfil. The engagement of nurses in tobacco control requires capacity building for treatment of tobacco dependence. Building on previous partnership with the at the General University Hospital & Centre for Treatment of Tobacco Dependence of the 3rd Medical Department, this project will develop the Eastern Europe Nurses’ Centre of Excellence for Tobacco Control (EE-COE) in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Centre will use a combination of evidence-based strategies in order to:

(1) Increase capacity and improve tobacco control skills for cancer nurses in Eastern Europe

(2) Engage cancer nurses in Eastern Europe in tobacco control initiatives

(3) Improve and increase the levels of education and awareness of tobacco control in the community

The Eastern Europe Nurses’ Centre of Excellence for Tobacco Control is located within the Centre for Treatment of Tobacco Dependence of the 3rd Medical Department at the General University Hospital. The Centre will aim to reach the target population of nurses in the Czech Republic, and further reach out to nurses in Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Romania

The major goals of the Eastern Europe Nurses’ Centre of Excellence for Tobacco Control (EE-COE) are:

(1) To address the epidemic of tobacco use and the resulting cancers in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia

(2) To act as the regional reference for engaging nurses in the fight against tobacco and to promote cancer prevention,

(3) To act as the regional reference for building capacity among nurses to work on smoking cessation and thereby cancer prevention initiatives.

In order to achieve its goals, the Centre’s advisory group, led by Dr. Eva Kralikova, works with Nurse Leaders in the Czech Republic and the target countries including Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. Dr. Stella Bialous, president of ISNCC and ISNCC Project Leader, and Dr. Linda Sarna, consultant, Professor and Dean of the UCLA School of Nursing are also involved with development of this project.

It will accomplish its goals and objectives through the implementation of 3 separate strategies: 

1) An in-person, train-the-trainer, one day workshop (EE-COE-IP) where nurses will receive materials and information related to implementation of evidence-based smoking cessation interventions and will be asked to provide short training sessions at their workplace. This workshop will assist in creating smoking cessation Nurse Champions in each country. We will collect basic information about the participants (demographic and professional characteristics, smoking status and intervention with patients) and will provide follow up and technical support as they implement educational programs in their own workplace.

2) An online (e-learning) training program (EE-COE-EL) modeled after a previous program implemented in Czech republic where nurses will be asked to respond to a baseline questionnaire, view a webcast on smoking cessation interventions and 3 months later answer a follow up questionnaire on whether their interventions with patients have changed.

3) Focus groups (EE-COE-FG) with nurses who are smokers and former smokers will be conducted in the target countries by the Nurse Champions within that country. The aim of these focus groups is to help us better understand why there is a high prevalence of nurses who smoke; to explore attitudes and experiences of nurses regarding smoking cessation in the workplace and strategies to support nurses’ quit efforts.

The creation of the Centre was made possible through a grant from the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation to the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care (ISNCC).