Telehealth Delivery of Tobacco Cessation Treatment in Cancer Care: An Ongoing Innovation Accelerated by the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Cancer Center Cessation Initiative Telehealth Working Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a rapid transformation in healthcare delivery. Ambulatory care abruptly shifted from in-person to telehealth visits with providers using digital video and audio tools to reach patients at home. Advantages to telehealth care include enhanced patient convenience and provider efficiencies, but financial, geographic, privacy, and access barriers to telehealth also exist. These are disproportionately greater for older adults and for those in rural areas, low-income communities, and communities of color, threatening to worsen preexisting disparities in tobacco use and health. Pandemic-associated regulatory changes regarding privacy and billing allowed many Cancer Center Cessation Initiative (C3I) programs in NCI-designated Cancer Centers to start or expand video-based telehealth care. Using 3 C3I programs as examples, we describe the methods used to shift to telehealth delivery. Although telephone-delivered treatment was already a core tobacco treatment modality with a robust evidence base, little research has yet compared the effectiveness of tobacco cessation treatment delivery by video versus phone or in-person modalities. Video-delivery has shown greater medication adherence, higher patient satisfaction, and better retention in care than phone-based delivery, and may improve cessation outcomes. We outline key questions for further investigation to advance telehealth for tobacco cessation treatment in cancer care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S21-S24
JournalJournal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network : JNCCN
Issue numberSuppl_1
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • Aged
  • COVID-19
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms/epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine
  • Tobacco Use Cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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