A short talk with a trained nurse may help smokers kick the butt, according to a new study which showed that quit rates among hospital patients doubled when staff were trained to coach people on how to stop smoking.
The study of 1,528 patients in five community hospitals in the US looked at self-reported and lab-confirmed quit rates six months after discharge.
Those who had been treated at three of the hospitals met at least once with a nurse who had undergone a one-hour training on how to help people quit smoking.
Nurses and other hospital staff were also trained to make sure patients got the help they needed quit smoking, whether that meant counselling, patches, gum or prescription medication.
“They were armed with everything they needed when they left – medication, behavioural tactics, a manual to help them stay on track,” said Sonia Duffy, a professor at The Ohio State University.
“Hospitalisation is the perfect time to help people quit. They’re more motivated and nurses can explain how smoking harms their health, including slowing healing,” said Duffy.
Six months after release, 16.5 per cent of the smokers from the intervention hospitals said they had quit, compared to 5.7 per cent from the other hospitals.
Nurse-patient interactions in the programme, called “Tobacco Tactics,” lasted about nine minutes, Duffy said.
If smokers in Tobacco Tactics hospitals agreed to try, the nurse worked with a doctor to make sure they had whatever tools were best-suited to their addiction.
Nurses and other staff who went through Tobacco Tactics training were taught strategies that help smokers quit, including identifying triggers and planning strategies to manage cravings.
Nurses carried a pocket card with reminders on how to help smokers. They learned which quit-smoking aids were likely to help which type of smoker based on their addiction and past attempts at kicking the habit.
They also supplied patients with brochure on quitting. They also received a card with the 1-800-QUIT-NOW Tobacco Quit Line number. Physicians in the hospitals were reminded to give patients brief advice to quit.
After they left the hospital, volunteers called them five times in the first month to check in and offer support.
Quit rates in the Tobacco Tactics hospitals and in the control hospitals were slightly lower than quit rates seen in other similar studies.
That could be because this study used “real world bedside nurses” and not research nurses whose only job is to do smoking cessation, Duffy said.
Her work also was different than much of the previous hospital intervention research because this study included smokers who were in the hospital for all kinds of reasons – not a select group, such as heart patients.
The research appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.