Teaching Clinicians About Tobacco Cessation May Help Patients Quit

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Enrolling mental health professionals in a short course promoting tobacco cessation increases the likelihood their patients will attempt to kick their smoking habit.

Jill M. Williams, MD, director of the Division of Addiction Psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues examined the effect of a two-day continuing education program for behavioral health professionals on helping patients to quit smoking.

Ten patient medical records were randomly selected from 20 clinicians who attended the training. Records were electronically searched for terms that included  “cigarette,” “nicotine,” “tobacco,” “quit,” “smoking,” and “smoke.”

After training, clinicians advised many more patients to quit (9% versus 36%) or referred them to individual or group counseling, the researchers reported in Psychiatric Services in Advance. The number of patients who attempted to quit significantly increased after clinician training (10% versus 39%), “suggesting that providers were delivering more tobacco treatment than was reflected in charts,” the researchers commented.

In addition, discussion of nicotine replacement was documented more frequently (10% versus 31%) and prescriptions for tobacco-cessation medications increased significantly in the in the post-training period.

Patient Engagement Yields Better Success in Tobacco Cessation
Teaching Clinicians About Tobacco Cessation May Help Patients Quit

Few continuing education programs to train behavioral health professionals to deliver tobacco treatment services have been described and evaluated.

The effectiveness of two-day training on changing practice was examined by review of clinical charts from 20 clinicians who attended in 2012. Ten medical records were randomly selected for review from each clinician's outpatient practice at a large behavioral health system. Five charts from smokers seen within six months before and after training were reviewed per clinician, for a total of 200. Records were electronically searched on “cigarette,” “nicotine,” “tobacco,” “quit,” “smoking,” and “smoke.” Results were compared via chi square tests (all P<.05).

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