Numerous studies have shown that African Americans and Hispanics are less likely than Caucasians to quit smoking, even if they participate in cessation interventions.
Associate Professor of Psychology in the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Monica Webb Hooper is one of the nation's leading researchers investigating these disparities.
She just received a grant from the Florida Department of Health James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program to determine how cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) impacts people's ability to quit smoking, and their feelings of stress and depression around these efforts.
"The importance of reducing tobacco-associated health disparities cannot be understated," Hooper said. "Racial/ethnic minorities are less likely to quit smoking, and tend to have elevated stress and depressive symptoms, which may contribute to cessation disparities."
For her new study, Hooper and her research team will randomly divide Black, Hispanic and White smokers into two groups, one of which will receive CBT while the other receives only general health education. Both groups will be provided with nicotine patches.
At the end of the therapy - and after three, six and 12 months - study participants will be assessed to see who has quit smoking.
"We expect that CBT will eliminate racial/ethnic differences in stress and depressive symptoms, and smoking cessation compared to the general health education control group," she noted.
Hooper's grant is part of an $18-million commitment by the Florida Department of Health to advance research on tobacco-related diseases.
"Florida is committed to finding innovative treatments for cancer and tobacco-related disease through competitive research grants," said State Surgeon General and Secretary of Health Dr. John Armstrong. "Out of 175 proposals, the 14 selected for funding hold great promise for restoring health to Florida's families dealing with cancer, heart disease and lung disease."
Two other researchers at the University of Miami also received funding through this initiative.