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Luis Saboga Nunes doctoral thesis PDF Print E-mail


Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention in portuguese: intentions to make behavioural changes and behavioural changes


Index (abstract)        Thesis (full text)         Disputation - presentation (full presentation)

….“Tenho críticas a fazer ao sistema cartesiano, que estabelece uma linha unifocal, fechada, lógica, matemática de pensar. O código da adaptação às adversidades, da tolerância, da solidariedade, da sensibilidade, do amor e da intuição criativa ultrapassa os limites da linearidade lógica.

Quem é legalista consigo e com os outros, quem interpreta a lei ao pé da letra e julga com rigidez os seus comportamentos e os dos outros não tem flexibilidade nem sensibilidade, pois desconsidera as circunstâncias, o ambiente social, o estado emocional e a intenção do agente. Professores, pais, magistrados e líderes políticos, que sejam legalistas, montesquianos, continuarão a provocar injustiças dramáticas. Quem é estritamente lógico e rígido na sua maneira de pensar e julgar, estará apto a dormir, a conviver e a relacionar-se com máquinas, mas não com seres humanos.

Todavia, apesar de criticar o sistema cartesiano de pensar e interpretar a vida e os acontecimentos, tenho de aplaudir o uso da dúvida por parte de Descartes como ferramenta intelectual. René Descartes preconizava a dúvida como meio de raciocínio. ... A psicologia multifocal recorre a este pensamento filosófico e estabelece que "duvidar significa pensar", "duvidar freia o excesso de subjectivismo e filtra as falsas crenças" p 82

quem não critica aquilo em que crê não lapidará as suas crenças, quem não lapida as suas crenças será servo das suas verdades. E se as suas verdades forem doentias, certamente será uma pessoa doente”. p 87   in “o código da inteligência” de Augusto Cury

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The problem of how to support “intentions to make behavioural changes” (IBC) and “behaviour changes” (BC) in smoking cessation when there is a scarcity of resources is a pressing issue in public health terms. The present research focuses on the use of information and communications technologies and their role in smoking cessation. It is developed in Portugal after the ratification of WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (on 8 November 2005). The prevalence of smokers over fifteen years of age within the population stood at 20.9% (30.9% for men and 11.8% for women). While the strategy of helping people to quit smoking has been emphasised at National Health Service (NHS) level, the uptake of cessation assistance has exceeded the capacity of the service. This induced the search of new theoretical and practical venues to offer alternative options to people willing to stop smoking. Among these, the National Health Plan (NHP) of Portugal (2004-2010), identifies the use of information technologies in smoking cessation. eHealth and the importance of health literacy as a means of empowering people to make behavioural changes is recurrently considered an option worth investigating. The overall objective of this research is to understand, in the Portuguese context, the use of the Internet to help people to stop smoking. Research questions consider factors that may contribute to “intentions to make behavioural changes” (IBC) and “behavioural changes” (BC) while using a Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Probe (WATIP). Also consideration is given to the trade-off on the use of the Web as a tool for smoking cessation: can it reach a vast number of people for a small cost (efficiency) demonstrating to work in the domain of smoking cessation (efficacy)”?

In addition to the introduction, there is a second chapter in which the use of tobacco is discussed as a public health menace. The health gains achieved by stopping smoking and the means of quitting are also examined, as is the use of the Internet in smoking cessation. Then, several research issues are introduced. These include background theory and the theoretical framework for the Sense of Coherence. The research model is also discussed. A presentation of the methods, materials and of the Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Probe (WATIP) follows.

In chapter four the results of the use of the Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Probe (WATIP) are presented. This study is divided into two sections. The first describes results related to quality control in relation to the Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Probe (WATIP) and gives an overview of its users. Of these, 3,150 answered initial eligibility questions. In the end, 1,463 met all eligibility requirements, completed intake, decided on a day to quit smoking (Dday) and declared their “intentions to make behavioural changes” (IBC) while a second targeted group of 650 did not decide on a Dday. With two quit attempts made before joining the platform, most of the participants had experienced past failures while wanting to stop. The smoking rate averaged 21 cigarettes per day. With a mean age of 35, of the participants 55% were males. Among several other considerations, gender and the Sense of Coherence (SOC) influenced the success of participants in their IBC and endeavour to set quit dates. The results of comparing males and females showed that, for current smokers, establishing a Dday was related to gender differences, not favouring males (OR=0.76, p<0.005). Belonging to higher Socio-economic strata (SES) was associated with the intention to consider IBC (when compared to lower SES condition) (OR=1.57, p<0.001) and higher number of school years (OR=0.70, p<0.005) favoured the decision to smoking cessation. Those who demonstrated higher confidence in their likelihood of success in stopping in the shortest time had a higher rate of setting a Dday (OR=0.51, p<0.001). There were differences between groups in IBC reflecting the high and low levels of the SOC score (OR=1.43, p=0.006), as those who considered setting a Dday had higher levels of SOC. After adjusting for all variables, stages of readiness to change and SOC were kept in the model. This is the first Arm of this research where the focus is a discussion of the system’s implications for the participants’ “intentions to make behavioural changes” (IBC).

Moreover, a second section of this study (second Arm) offers input collected from 77 in-depth interviews with the Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Probe (WATIP) users. Here, “Behaviour Change” (BC) and the usability of the platform are explored a year after IBC was declared. A percentage of 32.9% of self-reported, 12-month quitters in continuous abstinence from smoking from Dday to the 12-month follow- up point of the use of the Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Probe (WATIP) has been assessed. Comparing the Sense of Coherence (SOC) scores of participants by their respective means, according to the two groups, there was a significant difference in these scores of non smokers (BC) (M=144,66, SD=22,52) and Sense of Coherence (SOC) of smokers (noBC) (M=131,51, SD=21,43) p=0.014. This WATIP strategy and its contents benefit from the strengthening of the smoker’s sense of coherence (SOC), so that the person’s progress towards a life without tobacco may be experienced as comprehensible, manageable and meaningful. In this sample the sense of coherence (SOC) effect is moderate although it is associated with the day to quit smoking (Dday).

Some of the limitations of this research have to do with self-selection bias, sample size (power) and self-reporting (no biochemical validation). The enrolment of participants was therefore not representative of the smoking population. It is not possible to verify the Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention Probe (WATIP) evaluation of external validity; consequently, the results obtained cannot be applied generalized. No participation bias is provided. Another limitation of this study is the associated limitations of interviews. Interviewees’ perception that fabricating answers could benefit them more than telling the simple truth in response to questions is a risk that is not evaluated (with no external validation like measuring participants’ carbon monoxide levels). What emerges in this analysis is the relevance of the process that leads to the establishment of the quit day (Dday) to stop using tobacco. In addition, technological issues, when tailoring is the focus, are key elements for scrutiny. The high number of dropouts of users of the web platform mandates future research that should concentrate on the matters of the user-centred design of portals. The focus on gains in health through patient-centred care needs more research, so that technology usability be considered within the context of best practices in smoking cessation.


Web-Assisted Tobacco Intervention in portuguese: intentions to make behavioural changes and behavioural changes


Index (abstract)        Thesis (full text)         Disputation - presentation (full presentation)

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