Global Bridges: Tobacco Dependence Treatment Workshops in Eastern Europe

In May 2014, a two-day workshop was held under Global Bridges at the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University and the General University Hospital in Prague, in collaboration with the Czech Society for Treatment of Tobacco Dependence (www.slzt.cz). Among 18 participants were local physicians as well as visitors from Armenia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, and Canada. They all were clinical health professionals.

Topics were presented by prof. Richard Hurt, Director Emeritus of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Centre (NDC) in the USA, and by leaders from the Prague Centre for Tobacco-Dependent Patients (CTD http://bit.ly/1ooncBC).  Dr. Hurt described the work of the NDC, which was created in 1988 and has served as a model for the CTD in Prague. That model is founded on the principles of behavioral treatment, addictions treatment, pharmacotherapy and relapse prevention provided through motivational counseling.

When CTD was created in 2005, Dr. Kralikova and colleagues experienced similar problems at the beginning as those experienced at Mayo Clinic almost 30 years ago: no clinic was interested in giving space to such an activity; the first that was interested was the 3rd Medical Department of the First Faculty of Medicine and The General University Hospital, where the centre runs now. More than 4,000 smokers have been treated during its 10 years of existence.  Similarly, the Mayo Clinic NDC is based in the Department of Internal Medicine, and the physician faculty are all general internists. In the end, persistence in Prague paid the same dividends that the persistence paid half a world away in Rochester, Minnesota.

Dr. Hurt also discussed the neurobiology of tobacco dependence, treating tobacco dependence as a chronic disease and presented the latest clinical use of pharmacotherapy. Dr. Kralikova and colleagues highlighted their clinical and research experience in the Czech Republic. All of the education sessions were interactive and provoked considerable interest and much interchange among faculty and attendees.

During the closing and evaluation discussion, colleagues from other countries were very positive about the topic. Especially in Slovakia, we hope to start a closer collaboration and stimulate further activity in treatment of tobacco dependence, starting with a seminar in the Slovakian capital Bratislava in November 2014.  An update will be shared after that workshop.

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Contributing Authors:  Eva Kralikova, Alexandra Kmetova, Lenka Stepankova, Kamila Zvolska, and Eva Kleinova for the Centre for Tobacco Dependent, 3rd Medical Department, 1st Faculty of Medicine, and the General University Hospital, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic