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Interventions Post Hospital Stay can Encourage Smokers to Quit

Update Date: Aug 19, 2014 04:08 PM EDT

Smoking has been identified as a risk factor for many health diseases, ranging from lung cancer to heart disease. Despite knowing all of the health risks involved with smoking, quitting the habit can be very difficult. In a new study, researchers tested the effectiveness of using interventions for smokers who were just hospitalized and found that post-discharge interventions can encourage smokers to quit.

For this study, the research team headed by Nancy A. Rigotti, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston recruited 397 adults who smoked everyday but wanted to quit. The participants, who had an average age of 53, were all hospitalized. The researchers randomly assigned 198 smokers to the sustained care group, which involved the use of automated voice response telephone calls that encouraged smoking cessation, managed medication use and offered additional counseling for those that needed it post hospital discharge. Participants from this group were also allowed to pick their own choice of a smoking cessation medication free of charge. The remaining 199 participants were placed in the standard care group and received recommendations on pharmacotherapy and counseling after leaving the hospital.

Overall, the researchers discovered that participants from the sustained care group had higher smoking cessation rates at six months in comparison to participants from the standard care group. The team reported that more sustained care patients than standard care patients reached the primary goal, which was abstaining from smoking for seven days. Smoking-abstinence was measured through saliva samples that looked for nicotine metabolite.

"[This] trial demonstrated the effectiveness of a program to promote long-term tobacco cessation among hospitalized cigarette smokers who received an inpatient tobacco dependence intervention and expressed an interest in cessation treatment after discharge. The intervention aimed to sustain the tobacco cessation treatment that had begun in the hospital. It succeeded in improving the use of both counseling and pharmacotherapy by smokers after discharge, and it increased by 71 percent the proportion of patients with biochemically confirmed tobacco abstinence 6 months after discharge, which is a standard measure of long-term smoking cessation. The intervention appeared to be effective across abroad range of smokers and provided high-value care at a relatively low cost," the authors concluded according to the press release.

The study was published in JAMA.

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