Wisconsin smokers to be offered help quitting

07/13/2014 1:35 PM

07/13/2014 4:10 PM

Wisconsin smokers who see doctors at several clinics in the Milwaukee, Madison and Janesville areas for any reason will be automatically offered free help in quitting under an experimental study.

The research will focus on determining the most effective approaches for helping patients quit smoking, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/1mM6bDI ). It's being funded by a $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. It's the largest grant the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention has received since it was founded in 1992.

The study is expected to provide counseling and-or medication for more than 2,000 people at 20 clinics over five years, starting next year.

Researchers know counseling and medication work, but don't know how much of each works best, and how to best deliver that treatment systematically.

"It's helpful for a doctor to urge a patient to quit, but it's not enough," said Michael Fiore, a UW-Madison professor of medicine who founded the center.

The research will continue an ongoing collaboration among four health care systems: UW Health, Aurora Health Care, Dean Health System and MercyCare Health Plans.

About 19.5 percent of Wisconsin adults smoke, slightly higher than the national rate of 18 percent.

Fiore said the research will be based at health care clinics because seven of every 10 smokers visit their doctor every year.

"There's no place where more smokers congregate who are receptive and primed to quit," he said.

Electronic health records will be used to help participating clinics reach out to smokers. Patients will be contacted within 24 hours of seeing their doctor and will be randomly assigned a free treatment plan if they decide to participate. Some will be offered counseling; some will be offered nicotine patches or lozenges. Others will be offered both counseling and the patches or lozenges.

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