Somali Tobacco Outreach & Research Initiative (STORI)

Scott Leischow, Ph.D.Scott J. Leischow, Ph.D.

Senior Associate Consultant II, Hematology/Oncology
Mayo Clinic’s campus in Scottsdale, Arizona


Somalis are the fourth largest refugee population in the United States. They are the second largest refugee community in Arizona. The literature addressing the health of refugees from the African continent is sparse. Even accurate prevalence estimates of tobacco use among Somalis are few and vary greatly between studies. Somali communities in the U.S., however, often identify tobacco use as problematic and widespread. To date, no studies examining tobacco use behaviors have been conducted in Arizona, which represents a gap in existing knowledge and an opportunity to better understand the health of this underserved community, with the ultimate goal of developing tailored tobacco prevention, reduction and cessation interventions. This community-based, mixed-methods study employing quantitative surveys and qualitative focus groups will recruit 232 Somali participants in order to assess tobacco use behaviors, perceptions, and barriers to cessation. Health care access and clinical service utilization will also be assessed in order to inform future reduction and cessation studies. Social networks will be examined in relation to accessing information about health and tobacco use. Long-term objectives related to this study are the development of community-based interventions for tobacco use prevention, reduction and cessation tailored to reduce disparities-related tobacco use among the Somali community. This project was also conceptualized with the potential for future cross-Mayo site projects (Arizona and Rochester) comparing tobacco use intervention in different Somali communities.


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