Health + Behavior

Nurses Receive New Tool to Help Patients Quit Smoking


The U.S. Department of Health and HumanServices unveiled a new clinical tool on May 10 designed tohelp nurses help their patients stop smoking.

Called"Helping Smokers Quit: A Guide for Nurses," the pocket guide encourages nursesto follow the Five A's to cessation intervention: ask, advise, assess, assist and arrange. The booklet features a table of U.S. Food and DrugAdministration-approved medications for smoking cessation, online resources fornurses ( a new toll-free national hotline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) for smokers wanting toquit.

Thedepartment's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality jointly developed theguide with Tobacco-Free Nurses, a national initiative funded by The Robert WoodJohnson Foundation. The project aims to enlist the aid of the country's2.2 million practicing nurses in helping people give up smoking.

"Researchshows that nurses are very effective at helping people to stop smoking. Becauseof their sheer numbers and public trust, nurses are in a unique position tohelp patients end their tobacco use," said Linda Sarna,principal investigator for Tobacco-Free Nurses and a professor at the UCLASchool of Nursing.

"Thenew pocket guide will provide nurses with the information and tools they needto realize their potential as smoking cessation advocates," she said. "If eachU.S. nurse helps just one person quit smoking per year, they could triple thecurrent U.S. cessation rate."

Smoking causes more than 440,000 deaths in the United Statesper year. Seventy percent of adult smokers express a desire to stop, yetresearch shows that only half of all smokers who see a health care professionalare encouraged during the visit to quit.

"Asthe largest group of healthcare providers, nurses work in a variety of settingsand have tremendous opportunities to help implement tobacco-cessationstrategies," said Dr. Carolyn Clancy, director of the Agency for HealthcareResearch and Quality.

The Joint Commission onAccreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) has collected data since 2002on whether hospitals offer smoking cessation advice or counseling to patientsdiagnosed with heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia. Hospitals' compliancewith the measure varies widely; however, the data consistently attributed anurse's involvement to hospitals that performed well on this criterion.

"Hospitalization offers animportant 'teachable moment' and quitting opportunity and may make thedifference between a patient's cessation success and failure," Sarna said.

Partnersin the Tobacco Free Nurses Initiative include the American Nurses Association,American Nurses Foundation, American Association of Colleges of Nursing,National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations and the UCLA SmokingCessation Leadership Center.

Forfree copies of "Helping Smokers Quit: A Guide for Nurses," call 1-800-358-9295or see



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