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Documenting Smoking Status Only Modestly Beneficial

Smoking cessation counseling in primary-care practices usually consists of simple advice

TUESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Primary-care practices that document patient smoking status during vital-signs assessments are somewhat more likely to offer simple advice to quit. But the intervention does not lead to more intensive counseling, researchers report in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Stephen F. Rothemich, M.D., of the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues studied 6,729 patients including 1,149 smokers, who completed exit questionnaires at 18 primary practices.

The researchers found that smokers at intervention practices were somewhat more likely to report any counseling than smokers at control practices (61.9 percent versus 53.4 percent). But at both types of practices the counseling usually consisted of simple advice (59.9 percent and 51.5 percent, respectively). No significant group differences were seen in the number of smokers who reported more extensive counseling (32.5 percent and 29.3 percent, respectively).

"To offer this [higher] level of assistance, practices and the health plans within which they operate must establish additional systems to overcome barriers to the delivery of smoking cessation counseling and to ensure that patients receive the intensive interventions needed to effect tobacco cessation," the authors conclude. "They must augment the identification of smokers -- the focus of this study -- by redesigning management systems, modifying reimbursement algorithms, and forging alliances with community resources to overcome these barriers."

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