Kristine Alaniz, MPH; Bruce Christiansen, PhD; Emily Tingting Sullivan, BS; Lisette Khalil, MS, JD; Michael C. Fiore, MD, MPH, MBA
Background: Maternal smoking during pregnancy can have dire consequences for both baby and mother. In 2000, the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation developed the First Breath program to address this challenge, particularly among low-income women. While this prenatal smoking cessation program was successful, 2 factors necessitated changes in the program: changes in the health care reimbursement environment and a high postpartum relapse rate.
Methods: The First Breath program was revised using the concepts of implementation science and included focus groups of First Breath clients, a randomized control trial to test new postpartum services, and an implementation project to test the new method of delivering First Breath.
Results: A year after implementing the new First Breath program, results are encouraging. First Breath expanded its reach by 34% over 2017. Eighty-eight new First Breath sites (to a total of 235 sites) have been added, resulting in increased diversity. While there was significant relapse within the new program from prenatal abstinence to 1-month postpartum abstinence (from 13.6% to 7.3% abstinence, biochemically verified, intent-to-treat) there was not additional relapse through 6 months postpartum.
Conclusion: Sustaining a valuable community-based tobacco dependence intervention program serving a vulnerable population requires continuous improvement built on measured outcomes and response to changes in the health care delivery system. First Breath may serve as a model program to aid underserved pregnant women who smoke.