Jan 10, 2024

New TDRA Collaboration: Helping Women with Diabetes Quit Smoking

A Gender-Informed Approach to Brain Health

In Canada, around 200,000 women with diabetes mellitus (DM) smoke tobacco cigarettes, placing them at a significant risk of developing vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) and dementia later in life. Conversely, quitting is linked to a reduction in the occurrence of cardiovascular events among smokers. Quitting smoking is crucial to protect brain health in women, particularly in midlife; however, fewer women than men are able to give up smoking.

Sex and gender-related factors play a significant role in smoking behaviours. Women in difficult social and economic circumstances, who depend on smoking for emotional support, encounter particular difficulties in quitting. Furthermore, many women report a lack of social support from their partners or friends when attempting to quit. Current smoking treatment guidelines fail to consider sex and gender-related factors (outside reproductive contexts), and there is a scarcity of treatment programs that account for sex and gender-related influences on smoking.

A new study, led by Dr. Osnat Melamed et al, and funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)’s Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment in Aging (BHCIA) Research Initiative, is designed to address this gap. Titled “Helping Women with Diabetes Quit Smoking: A Gender-informed Approach to Brain Health”, this study aims to provide a comprehensive review of women-specific smoking cessation approaches that address sex and gender-related barriers to quitting, with a particular focus on women with DM.

TDRA is proud to be a partner on this study.

The specific objectives of this research are:

1. Perform a systematic review of existing literature to identify smoking treatment programs specifically designed for women, and summarize the strategies employed by these programs to address sex and gender related obstacles in smoking cessation.

2. Facilitate consultation workshops involving our principal knowledge user, Diabetes Action Canada (DAC), patient partners and stakeholders to discuss the review findings and establish a sex and gender informed approach to support women with DM in quitting smoking.

3. Foster the dissemination of new knowledge and stakeholder insights through the co-creation of knowledge mobilization (KM) products, including written materials, a podcast, and an animation video.

These resources will be shared through DAC and stakeholder networks to promote sex and gender informed strategies for smoking cessation among women with DM.

This study employs an integrated knowledge translation (iKT) approach emphasizing the active involvement of patients and stakeholders as partners throughout the research process, which will provide the best potential to yield research results that will be relevant and used. The team comprises a diverse range of scientific experts, experiential experts (patient partners) and knowledge users. TDRA, through the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH)’s Geriatric Psychiatry Department - and particularly through Executive Director Dr. Tarek Rajji and other TDRA researchers’ involvement - will support the development of the material as they related to aging and dementia. TDRA’s team will also help disseminate the study's knowledge products within its wide networks of stakeholders and partners.

For other TDRA studies.