WHO train-the-trainer workshop on telephone counselling for tobacco quit line counsellors in Turkey


Representatives of the heath ministries of Turkey and Turkmenistan, and staff from the WHO Country Office in Turkey, WHO/Europe, WHO headquarters and the International Quitline Institute attend the closing ceremony of the smoking cessation training.

In response to the needs of the Ministry of Health of Turkey to improve the quality of tobacco quit line services in the country, WHO and the International Quitline Institute (IQI) held a joint technical meeting on 10–15 April 2016 in Tekirdağ. They reviewed the telephone counselling protocols used by the Turkish quit line and conducted a train-the-trainer workshop on telephone counselling. The team consisted of Dr Toker Ergüder, National Professional Officer, WHO Country Office in Turkey; Mr Ken Wassum, Mrs Etta Short and Mrs Abigail Halperin from IQI; and Dr Dongbo Fu, Technical Officer, WHO headquarters.

The Ministry of Health and WHO jointly organized a train-the trainer workshop on telephone counselling in Tekirdağ. 44 participants who are familiar with tobacco dependence treatment or who work for the Turkish Quit Line and tobacco cessation clinics attended the workshop. 4 participants from Turkmenistan also participated in this training. The WHO/IQI team conducted the workshop using WHO-developed training materials. The major subjects covered include:

  • tobacco use and tobacco dependence
  • practical and theoretical approaches for those ready to quit
  • practical and theoretical approaches for those not ready to quit
  • pharmacotherapy
  • basic components of a call
  • assessment and agenda-setting
  • action planning
  • the content of telephone counselling
  • challenging calls
  • integrated practice
  • preparation for training delivery: four-step lesson plan.

Participants appreciated the topics taught and discussed at the workshop. All participants agreed that the training workshop was useful for their work. 97% of participants reported that they felt more confident in providing telephone counselling services to tobacco users as a result of the workshop; 91% of participants felt more confident in training telephone counsellors on this subject. Participants also offered useful suggestions on how to improve the training materials and workshop (for example, provide more practice and videos, and the training materials in the local language).

The workshop was officially closed by Dr Sertaç Polat, Head of the Tobacco Control Department, Ministry of Health, Turkey. Dr Polat announced that the Ministry would conduct the first training of telephone counsellors in 2–3 weeks.

The team visited the Turkish Quit Line Centre, which has 186 counsellors and receives 7000–10 000 calls per day, and learnt that the Turkish quit line number 171 is displayed on cigarette packs. The team reviewed the telephone counselling protocols used by the Turkish Quit Line, and discussed hours of operation, staffing, promotion of quit line services, and monitoring and evaluation.

Dr Pavel Ursu, WHO Representative to Turkey said, "WHO will continue to provide continuous support to the Ministry of Health of Turkey in improving their national quit line services including training telephone counsellors. Strengthening the link between the primary health care system and the quit line is very crucial for better outcomes to reduce smoking prevalence in Turkey. The Ministry of Health should consider training every primary care provider to routinely identify smoking patients, advise them to quit and refer them to the quit line. In this way, the quit line will get a reliable source of serious callers, and primary care providers are more likely to deliver brief tobacco interventions."