Periodic Phone Calls Help Smokers Quit

Telephone counseling increases use of smoking cessation programs and medications

TUESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers who receive telephone counseling are more than three times more likely to quit smoking for six months and are also more likely to use counseling programs and smoking cessation medications than smokers receiving routine care, researchers report in the March 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Lawrence C. An, M.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues recruited 837 smokers from five Veterans Affairs medical centers. About half were randomized to standard care, which included self-help materials and access to clinical smoking cessation services. The rest received seven calls over a two-month period from a trained counselor, with additional calls scheduled at the discretion of the counselor.

The six-month abstinence rate after 12 months of follow-up was 13 percent in the telephone care group but only 4.1 percent in the standard care group (odds ratio 3.50). More patients who received telephone calls participated in counseling programs (97.1 versus 24 percent) and used smoking cessation medications (89.6 versus 52.3 percent) than those who did not, according to the study.

"The findings of this study lend additional support to the recommendation for a national network of quitlines that would make these services available to all tobacco users in this country," the authors conclude.

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