For the first time in Armenia: tobacco dependence treatment training for primary care physicians

The American University of Armenia School of Public Health (AUA SPH) was one of the 19 organizations worldwide competitively awarded the grant presented by Global Bridges and Pfizer Independent Grants for Learning & Change (IGLC) to develop national capacity in implementing the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 14 in Armenia. View the project poster here.

In the scope of this project, the AUA SPH research team designed, implemented and evaluated the first smoking cessation training program for practicing primary healthcare physicians in Armenia. The project team developed the training materials based on evidence-based international resources and adapted to the local context. The Ministry of Health accredited the 2-day training curriculum and designated five continuing medical education (CME) credits. Overall, 58 primary healthcare physicians (family physicians and general therapists) from 18 polyclinics in the capital city, Yerevan and the second largest city, Gyumri participated in the series of evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment trainings. The trainings were conducted by Arusyak Harutyunyan, MD, MPH, SPH senior researcher and primary investigator of the project; Armine Abrahamyan, MS, MPH, research assistant and clinical psychologist; and Armine Danielyan, PhD, senior lecturer from the Department of Family Medicine at Yerevan State Medical University. Dr. Arusyak Harutyunyan is the only expert in Armenia that has the Mayo Clinic’s provisional Tobacco Treatment Specialist Certificate.

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The research team used several measurements to evaluate the effectiveness of the training including a training expectation survey, pre- and post-training quizzes and knowledge, attitude, and practice (KAP) surveys administered before the trainings and at 4-months follow-up. The KAP survey was also completed by 51 primary healthcare physicians that did not participate in the trainings and were involved in the study as the control group – 48 completed both baseline and follow-up surveys. At the end of the study, the control group participants received all the training materials (n=49) and were also invited to participate in tobacco dependence treatment seminars, essentially shorter versions of the training (n=37).

“Our evaluations demonstrated high satisfaction with the content, design and delivery process of the trainings, as well as significant improvement in physicians’ knowledge and self-reported practice in tobacco dependence treatment at four months after participation in the trainings,” Dr. Harutyunyan said about the training outcomes.

The participants said they highly valued the training sessions in their evaluations. Here are a few quotes from them:

  • “Within relatively short time we received impressive amount of knowledge on smoking cessation. The training was interactive, informative, and up-to-date. I am going to use the knowledge and skills obtained during the training in my daily practice.”
  • “The training enhanced my knowledge and made me more confident in providing smoking cessation counseling to my patients.”
  • “I like the teaching methods: the course was interactive, materials were comprehensive and easy to understand. Overall the training was well organized.”

The trainings were successfully conducted in strong collaborative partnership with the Ministry of Health, National Institutes of Health, Yerevan State Medical University, and Yerevan and Gyumri Municipalities.

View additional photos from the AUA SPH trainings: