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Phone Counseling Helps Smokers Quit

Study reaffirms need for quitlines nationwide

THURSDAY, March 16, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Telephone counseling and care is more helpful to smokers trying to quit than routine care provided by doctors, a new study finds.

"At a minimum, telephone care for smoking cessation should be made available to veterans who are interested in stopping smoking," conclude researchers from the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. "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."

They reported their findings in the March 13 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The one-year study included 837 daily smokers who received care at five U.S. Veterans Affairs medical centers in the upper Midwest. All the volunteers said they would try to quit smoking. They were divided into two groups -- standard care and telephone care.

Those in the standard care group were mailed self-help materials and had continued access to smoking cessation services at the VA centers. People in the telephone care group received a scheduled seven telephone counseling sessions over two months, with additional calls as needed at the discretion of the counselor. There were an average of 7.7 telephone counseling sessions per study participant over the year.

At the three-month point of the study, 39.6 percent of people in the telephone counseling group had not smoked in the previous seven days, compared with 10.1 percent of those in the standard care group. After a year, 13 percent of those in the telephone care group had not smoked in the previous six months, compared with 4.1 percent of those in the standard care group.

The study also found that the people in the telephone care group were more likely to use other techniques to help them stop smoking, including smoking cessation counseling programs and medications. They also made more attempts to quit smoking than people in the standard care group.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about smoking cessation.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, March 13, 2006
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