Brief preoperative smoking cessation counselling in relation to breast cancer surgery: a qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


AIM: To describe how women smokers with newly diagnosed breast cancer experienced brief preoperative smoking cessation intervention in relation to breast cancer surgery. BACKGROUND: Preoperative smoking cessation intervention is relevant for short- and long-term risk reduction in newly diagnosed cancer patients. Our knowledge of how patients with malignant diagnoses experience preoperative smoking intervention is however scarce. METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study that collected data through one-time individual, semi-structured interviews with 11 Danish women. Ricoeur's theory of interpretation was used for the analysis. RESULTS: The women experienced that brief preoperative smoking intervention triggered reflection upon smoking and health. They furthermore experienced the smoking intervention as an opportune aid to escaping the social stigma of being a smoker. Quitting in the context of cancer diagnosis was difficult for some women. They relapsed to smoking as an ingrown response to emotional distress. The smoking intervention heightened the women's awareness of their addiction to smoking; however, they expressed a need for prolonged smoking cessation support. For others, the smoking intervention was supportive of cessation, and these women experienced smoking cessation as an enactment of a duty of responsibility to themselves and those nearest to them. They furthermore experienced a sense of personal achievement, improved well-being and endorsement from family and friends. CONCLUSION: In newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, brief preoperative smoking intervention motivated smoking cessation. However, prolonged intervention, pre- and postoperatively, may more effectively support cessation in breast cancer patients and should therefore be evaluated in this patient population.


  • Thordis Thomsen
  • Bente Appel Esbensen
  • Susanne Samuelsen
  • Ann Møller
  • Hanne Tønnesen
External organisations
  • Herlev Hospital
  • Bispebjerg Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Surgery
  • Substance Abuse
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)344-349
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes