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UMCG starts research on partners and giving up smoking

03 May 2017

​One of the partners in a couple smokes and wants to stop. What is the role of non-smoking partners and how can they help the smoker to give up? Healthcare psychologists at the UMCG are starting new research into giving up smoking, focusing on couples with one partner who smokes. The research will take a year and the first results are expected in 2018.

The social environment is of great importance to smokers who want to stop smoking. Giving up cigarettes changes things in their day-to-life, including their social life. This new study explores the extent to which a non-smoking partner can help the smoker to quit.

Most research into giving up smoking focuses on the smokers themselves. A few studies of couples have been carried out, mainly looking at the most common group; couples in which both partners want to stop smoking. This research goes down a different path by looking at couples with just one smoker. This accounts for around 35% of all smokers. It would be safe to assume that smokers and their non-smoking partners have different ideas about smoking.

The couples taking part will first be asked to complete a questionnaire. One of the researchers will then help the smoker to draw up a plan for quitting. For the next three weeks, both partners fill in a digital diary comprising a short questionnaire. Three months later, the partners complete another questionnaire, regardless of whether the smoker has managed to stop or not.

Any couples including one partner who smokes can take part in the study. They must have been together for at least a year, be living under the same roof and neither may be pregnant. Couples can register to participate at Contact or www.stopplan.nl. The researchers need 140 couples.

Groningen aims high in the battle against smoking, hoping to become the first smoke-free municipality in the Netherlands. Eight leading organizations in the city recently endorsed an initiative entitled ‘Working towards a smoke-free generation’. As part of this campaign, the UMCG intends to make its entire site a no-smoking zone by 2019.