Proactive Medical Stances Can Help Patients Quit Smoking

As lung cancer continues to outpace many others in the number of annual deaths in the United States, researchers are working to develop new ways to get patients who smoke to kick the habit sooner. One recent study has found that active clinical support and assistance can prove much more beneficial than mere questioning when it comes to prompting patient action.

The research comes out of Massachusetts General Hospital where data from the 2011 National Lung Screening Trial was reviewed. The researchers set out to determine if screening participation actually encouraged patients who were not diagnosed with lung cancer to go ahead and quit smoking to avoid a diagnosis down the road.

Researchers ultimately compared about 1,668 patients who reported quitting with an equal number who reported back that they hadn’t. The data drawn came from post-screening questionnaires that asked study participants a variety of questions about their doctor’s involvement. Questions focused on whether doctors asked about current smoking status, if they were interested in quitting, if they were advised to quit, if they were provided instruction and advice on how to kick the habit and if follow-ups took place to review quitting efforts.

The results showed that patients who were merely asked questions related to the first three topics were not likely to quit. Those patients who also received methods or help to quit and follow-up had a much higher success rate. The likelihood of quitting was 40 percent higher for those who received helpful methods for doing so and 46 percent for those who also received follow-up care, researchers found.

The bottom line, researchers say, is that doctors need to take a more active role in helping patients kick the habit. Simply asking about habits and advising that smoking isn’t wise isn’t enough to truly help patients overcome their physical and psychological dependency. By taking an active role, doctors can have a greater impact on assisting their patients in leaving smoking behind.

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