Results of a randomized controlled trial of intervention to implement smoking guidelines in Veterans Affairs medical centers: increased use of medications without cessation benefit

Anne M Joseph, Nancy J Arikian, Larry C An, Sean M Nugent, Richard J Sloan, Carl F Pieper et al.
Medical Care 2004, 42 (11): 1100-10

BACKGROUND: The AHRQ Clinical Practice Guideline for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence recommends screening and treatment of all tobacco users. Effective methods to implement recommendations are needed because simple guideline dissemination does not necessarily result in changes in practice.

OBJECTIVES: The Guideline Implementation for Tobacco (GIFT) study tested an organizational intervention to improve Guideline implementation.

RESEARCH DESIGN: GIFT randomized 20 Veterans Affairs medical centers to intervention or control conditions. We trained prime movers at each site to improve identification of smoking status, promote primary care interventions and increase availability of smoking cessation medications. Sites and patients were evaluated before and after intervention.

SUBJECTS: GIFT included 20 Veterans Affairs medical centers and 5678 subjects.

MEASURES: Data regarding smoking status, delivery of treatment, medication use, and smoking cessation were collected from participant surveys, medical record review, survey of site leaders, and Pharmacy Benefits Management.

RESULTS: The intervention did not increase participant report of being asked about smoking status or receipt of counseling. It did increase the rate of identification of smoking status in the medical record (P = 0.0001) but did not increase the rate of counseling to stop smoking. Site level data showed no increase in the number of patients receiving smoking cessation medications or dollars spent on medications. Individual smoker data showed a significant increase in the use of medications for smoking cessation in intervention sites (odds ratio = 6.89, P < 0.0001); however, only a small minority of smokers received medication even after the intervention. There was no difference in smoking cessation rates between participants at the intervention and treatment sites.

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that improvements in smoking cessation rates are likely to require more intensive intervention in this population.

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