University-based TDT clinic sees success
Dr. Zakiya Al Busaidi, is Senior Consultant at the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at Sultan Qaboos University. She holds an MD in family medicine, and PhD in Psychiatry, and is a Tobacco Dependence Treatment Specialist certified from Mayo Clinic.
What is the motive behind establishing a tobacco dependence treatment (TDT) clinic at Sultan Qaboos University, and how did the idea start?
The idea started through a campaign organized by students from the College of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2011. The campaign was about helping smokers at the university to quit smoking through providing several awareness activities inside and outside the university. Some students showed their interest in quitting, but they need support and treatment. The idea received the support of the Dean, Prof. Omar Al-Rawas, and the management at the University Hospital and other sections.
Tell us about the services that the clinic provides, and about the treatment modality that the clinic follows.
The clinic provides two service components, the first is the pharmacotherapy which includes the nicotine patch and gum, and the second is the behavioral therapy “motivational interviewing”. The average length of the treatment is three to four months and varies depending on the level of addiction to nicotine and on other social, psychosocial and physical factors.
Who can receive the TDT services?
All students who use tobacco at Sultan Qaboos University.
Who provides the TDT services at the clinic? Did the healthcare providers receive any training in TDT? If yes, please describe the training?
The service is currently provided by me and Ms. Sawsan Baddar, and we are both trained in tobacco dependence treatment.
I attended a tobacco dependence treatment workshop in Tunisia that was conducted by King Hussein Cancer Center and the tobacco dependence treatment specialist course at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. in 2013. In addition I have training in motivational interviewing and cognitive behavior therapy as part of my interest in mental health.
Ms. Baddar has attended the tobacco treatment workshop that was provided by King Hussein Cancer Center in Oman in 2014.
However, we are planning to train more people — especially nurses and pharmacists — and hopefully employ health educators in the future.
How many students visited the clinic for treatment so far?
We have just started with the beginning of this academic year so the number is still small. We have ten students so far but the number is increasing with time.
What is your plan in promoting the clinic to students at the university?
We announced the news in three local newspapers and on two radio programs last month and are planning to have a big campaign at the university in February when the students are back after the holidays. The campaign will be organized by Sultan Qaboos University Hospital and the student groups from the College of Medicine and College of Arts. We will involve some of the patients to talk to their colleagues about their experience and pharmacists will explain how the pharmacological treatment works. Oman Anti-Tobacco Society will also participate.
Do you have a follow-up system for the smoking status among students who visited the clinic during the year?
We have just started the service officially two months ago but we have a good electronic filing system and it will be easy for us to retrieve information and follow up with the patients, especially that they are all students at our university and we have more than one method to communicate with them, i.e. e-mails, phone numbers, etc.
Do you have any aims to promote the idea of having a TDT clinic in other universities in the Sultanate?
Of course. However, we are now focused on making this experience successful and evaluating it first.
Are you willing to train health care providers on TDT at other universities?
Yes, once we have more experience with our service. I have been contacted by a health educator from a local school about training the school nurse who would like to come to our clinic to receive practical training, and also by an NGO who is thinking about providing the treatment to the public in the future.
What is your recommendation for any university or educational institution willing to establish a TDT clinic?
I would encourage them to start. It is so far a very rewarding experience as we are targeting a young population at a critical age in their life. On the contrary to what some people might assume, these young people would like to get help because they want to focus on their studies and their career and family future.
Although we have just started recently, we receive lots of support and encouragement from the university, the students and the public which is motivating for us to continue.
Finally, I would like to thank our friends and colleagues at King Hussein Cancer Center, Jordon for their continuous support and encouragement.