A Qualitative Study Identifying Motivators, Facilitators, and Barriers to Tobacco Cessation in Older Adults

  • Lana M. Brown Associate Nurse Executive for Research Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System
Keywords: Tobacco, Tobacco Cessation, Qualitative Research, Transtheoretical Model (TTM), Older Adults


Background: Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of premature death and disease in the world and in the United States and is associated with diseases of nearly every organ system. Tobacco cessation is considered the single most important factor to improve the health of older adults who use tobacco. However, minimal research has focused on the process of tobacco cessation or factors influencing this process.

Purpose:  This qualitative study aimed to identify motivators, facilitators, and barriers to tobacco cessation and prolonged cessation in older adults aged 50 years and older.

Design and Methods: This qualitative research study explored tobacco cessation in community dwelling older adults after receiving Institutional Review Board approval. The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change was the conceptual framework used to guide this study. Snowball sampling was used to recruit 20 older adults who had ceased using tobacco products for one year or more and remained tobacco free. Semi-structured audio-recorded interviews were conducted in each participant’s home.  Data were analyzed using content analysis and constant comparison techniques. Demographic data were described using descriptive statistics.

Results: Participants were from three southern states and included 11 males and nine females with 18 Caucasian and two African American. The average age of participants at the time of the interview was 71.5 years, and the average quitting age was 60.5 years. Four global themes related to tobacco cessation in older adults emerged from the analysis: (a) motivators, (b) facilitators, (c) barriers, and (d) life after tobacco. These older adults attribute their successful tobacco cessation to self-motivation, accountability to self and others, and finding replacements for tobacco. Barriers to tobacco cessation included tobacco triggers/temptations and addiction/withdrawal symptoms. Participants described themselves as proud, strong, and independent after quitting.

Conclusion: Information gained from older adults who have ceased using tobacco products can be used to develop tobacco cessation interventions that health care providers can use to assist older patients who desire to quit.

Author Biography

Lana M. Brown, Associate Nurse Executive for Research Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System

College of Nursing

Clinical Assistant Professor


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