Sex differences in smoking cessation: a retrospective cohort study in a psychosocial care unit in Brazil
Abstract Introduction Despite the results of epidemiological and psychometric studies reporting comparable levels of tobacco dependence among males and females, some clinical studies have detected disparities. Some smoking cessation studies based on clinical setting programs reported poorer outcomes among women than men. Methods This retrospective cohort study aimed to compare treatment success and retention between men and women on a smoking cessation program (n = 1,014) delivered at a CAPS-AD unit in Brazil. The psychological intervention lasted 6 weeks for each group of 15 patients. Each patient had to participate in weekly group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions and individual medical appointments during this period. These appointments were focused on the possibility of prescribing pharmacological treatment (i.e., nicotine replacement therapy, bupropion, or nortriptyline) as adjuvants to group therapy. Results The women had lower smoking severity at baseline, more clinical symptoms, and lower prevalence of alcohol and drug use disorders and were older than the men. Females had significantly higher levels of success (36.6% vs. 29.7%) and retention (51.6% vs. 41.4%) than males. Sensitivity analysis showed that female gender was significantly associated with both retention and success, among those without drug use disorders only. Conclusion Depending on the smoking cessation setting (i.e., low and middle-income countries and mental health and addiction care units), females can achieve similar and even higher quit rates than males. Previous drug use disorder was an important confounding variable in the gender outcomes analyses. Future studies should try to replicate these positive smoking cessation effects of CBT-based group therapy plus pharmacotherapy in women.