Smokers ‘more likely to quit’ after nurse-led cessation support

US study finds hospital patients contacted by nurses trained in cessation techniques are almost three times as likely as other patients to stop smoking

Hospital patients who smoke are almost three times as likely to quit when given access to nurses trained in helping people kick the habit, a US study has found.

Patients in the study met at least once with a nurse who had
undergone smoking cessation training. Photo: Alamy.

The 3-year study, involving five community hospitals in Michigan, looked at 1,528 patients who smoked.

Three of the five hospitals adopted a programme called Tobacco Tactics, which offers patients the chance to meet at least once with a nurse who has undergone a 1-hour training course in smoking cessation.

Six months after discharge, 16.5% of patients from the three hospitals using the programme were reported to have quit, compared with 5.7% at the remaining two community hospitals.

Smoking cessation techniques are not taught routinely in US nursing schools and acess to support in hospitals varies, acccording to Ohio State University professor of nursing Sonia Duffy, who led the study.

Beyond quit lines

Instead, smokers are often referred to a helpline, which can be effective but is most frequently used by those who are already highly motivated, she added.

‘I hope hospital administrators will look beyond telephone quit lines to help people,’ said Professor Duffy. ‘They work for a select group of people and the rest are falling through the cracks.

‘Nurses have the greatest access to patients, they have relationships with patients and they can relate the benefits of quitting to the patient’s medical condition.’

Individual approach

The study, which was undertaken from 2010-2013, used volunteer frontline nurses rather than those who had prior training in smoking cessation.

Nurses worked with a doctor to decide on the tools best suited to the individual patient, such as nicotine replacement therapy. 

They were taught strategies to help smokers quit, including identifying triggers and planning ways to manage cravings, for example snacking on healthy food, brushing teeth or going for a walk.

Patients who took part in the study were contacted by a nurse five times in the first month after discharge to offer support.

Lowest-ever rate

The US study comes as new figures from Public Health England (PHE) reveal smoking rates across England are the lowest on record.

PHE said 16.9% of the population in England are smokers, the lowest level since records began.

The figures were released as the health body launched its annual Stoptober campaign to encourage smokers to quit for the month of October.

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.