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Academic Detailing Could Boost Treatment of Tobacco Use

Increase in frequency of simple and complex components of tobacco treatment behaviors

MONDAY, June 22, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- An educational outreach program, academic detailing (AD), can improve the frequency of physicians' performance of simple and complex components of tobacco use treatment, according to a study published in the June issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Frank T. Leone, M.D., from the University of Philadelphia, and colleagues examined the influence of a university-based, noncommercial, educational outreach intervention on primary care physicians' treatment practice behaviors. Trained academic detailers visited targeted primary care practices, delivering verbal messages and written instruction highlighting three key tobacco treatment messages. Physicians' treatment behaviors (simple and complex) were assessed using a seven-item questionnaire, administered before and two months after AD.

The researchers observed a significant increase in the mean frequency scores of complex behaviors, from 2.63 to 2.92, corresponding to a 30 percent increase in the number of physicians who "almost always" or "always" endorsed (P < 0.001). There was an improvement in mean simple behavior frequency scores, from 3.98 to 4.13 (P = 0.035). The frequency of complex behavior at baseline was influenced by sex and practice type, while at follow-up, only practice type influenced improvement in complex behavior scores.

"This study demonstrates the feasibility and potential effectiveness of a low-cost and highly disseminable intervention to improve clinician behavior in the context of treating nicotine dependence in underserved communities," the authors write.

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