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Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Role of Hospitals in Helping Patients Quit

Partnership for Prevention’s ActionToQuit initiative is pleased to offer the “Helping Patients Quit” guide to hospital leaders and care providers as a useful tool in implementing a comprehensive tobacco cessation program. Screening all patients for tobacco use and offering treatment and follow-up to those who use tobacco is both good policy and practice.  Hospitals are a good place to intervene because the hospitalized tobacco user is, at least temporarily, is in a tobacco-free environment. Patients may be highly motivated to quit because tobacco use may have caused or contributed to their hospitalization. Unfortunately, hospitals have been slow to adopt programs to help their patients quit using tobacco.

The commentary Integrating Comprehensive Tobacco Treatment Into the Evolving US Health Care System highlights the significant impact of tobacco use treatment in a health care setting. A 1990 randomized control study of a hospital-based cessation program showed that cessation rates increased from 32% to 61% at one year follow-up among patients that had been hospitalized for heart attack. Despite these significant findings, little change occurred in the health care setting to address tobacco use.  In the past decade, however, progress has been noticeable, although still lagging considering the substantial evidence supporting the cost-effectiveness of tobacco use treatment.  In fact, the National Commission on Prevention Priorities (NCPP) found that tobacco screening and counseling is one of the few clinical preventive services that is cost-saving.

Current reforms and policies hint at a continued movement towards the integration of a comprehensive care management system for tobacco dependence in the health care system. Nevertheless, we must not be content with the current pace of progress, but rather double our efforts to save lives and reduce the suffering caused by tobacco use.

The Joint Commission has provided national leadership by developing new tobacco cessation performance measures and, as a result, many hospitals will make this a priority. It is Partnership’s hope that hospital leaders and practitioners will use the Helping Patients Quit guide to develop a tobacco cessation screening and treatment program for their facility and assist all patients who use tobacco to successfully quit.  

Sandhia Rajan
ActionToQuit Program Manager

Posted by: Alyson Hazen Kristensen at 12:00 AM
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Labels: cessation, healthcare, hospitals, tobacco