CHS Published in BMJ Global Health

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YEREVAN, Armenia — Zhanna Sargsyan, M.S. (MPH ’18), Varduhi Hayrumyan, M.S. (MPH ’16), and Varduhi Petrosyan, M.S. PhD, from the Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development of the Turpanjian College of Health Sciences (CHS) at the American University of Armenia have co-authored a publication in BMJ Global Health, a peer-reviewed, open-access journal with high impact (Impact Factor: 8.1) that publishes research on all aspects of global health. The article is based on the “Smoke-free air coalitions in Armenia and Georgia project: A community randomized trial” (GATHER) project, implemented in partnership with Emory University, George Washington University, the National Institute of Health named after academician S. Avdalbekyan, the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health of Armenia, and the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health. This multi-year project was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center and ended in March 2023. CHS has published nine articles to date based on research associated with this project.

The paper, titled “Examining local smoke-free coalitions in Armenia and Georgia: context and outcomes of a matched-pairs community-randomised controlled trial” and authored by Dr. Carla J. Berg, Dr. Regine Haardörfer, Arevik Torosyan, Dr. Ana Dekanosidze, Lilit Grigoryan, Zhanna Sargsyan, Varduhi Hayrumyan, Dr. Lela Sturua, Dr. Marina Topuridze, Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan, Dr. Alexander Bazarchyan, and Dr. Michelle C. Kegler, examined the impact of local coalitions in promoting smoke-free policy adoption and enforcement over a three-year period (2019–2022) using an experimental design (matched-pairs community-randomized controlled trial) in 28 communities across Armenia and Georgia. Multisectoral local coalitions are effective in shifting social norms, creating community readiness for policy change, and changing policy and have shown particular application and success for tobacco control initiatives. However, local coalitions have not been widely leveraged or studied in low-income and middle-income countries.

The findings indicated that, compared to control communities, intervention communities showed greater rates of complete smoke-free homes at follow-up; however, no intervention effects on policy support or secondhand smoke exposure were observed. Study findings indicate the promise of local coalitions in enhancing the impact of smoke-free legislation, particularly for promoting smoke-free home adoption, even in the face of several sociopolitical factors such as national smoke-free policy implementation, COVID-19, and war. Findings suggest that given the specific intervention effects on smoke-free homes, future research should examine strategies promoting smoke-free policies in private settings (e.g., homes, vehicles), as well as other settings not covered by the public policy, by leveraging local coalitions.

The AUA Turpanjian College of Health Sciences works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of health professionals to be leaders in public health, nursing, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.