“Talk With Your Health Care Team” Program Encourages Smoking Patients to Quit

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expanding and renaming its “Talk With Your Doctor” pilot program to broaden its outreach to a variety of health care providers. “Talk With Your Doctor” was piloted in 2013 with two goals: 1) to motivate smokers to talk to their doctors about quitting, and 2) to equip doctors with tools and resources that would assist them in helping their smoking patients quit.  Following the successful launch, CDC expanded the program in July to include many types of health care providers, and the new program name is “Talk With Your Health Care Team.”

The “Talk With Your Health Care Team” program has made available specific resources and materials to help you assist your smoking patients in understanding the health risks of smoking and accessing free resources for quitting.

Materials are available for dental professionals, pharmacists, and all types of health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

Although the “Talk With Your Health Care Team” program is focused on a U.S. audience, the online materials and resources are available to everyone.  They are primarily in English, with some materials available in Spanish.

Materials include:

  • Factsheet about how you can get involved in helping your smoking patients quit
  • FAQs about how quitlines work and their effectiveness
  • FAQs tailored to different types of health care providers
  • A printable, pocket-sized card  listing the steps for conducting a brief tobacco intervention with your patients (as well as a Medscape video, Conducting a Brief 2A Tobacco Intervention)
  • Posters to download and print for posting in offices and other health-care settings (see examples below).

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Patients can be referred to the I’m Ready to Quit! page of the Tips Web site (you can link to it from your practice’s Web site).  Also, let your patients in the U.S. know that they can get free quit help by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW1-800-QUIT-NOW  (1-800-784-86691-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-35691-855-335-3569) (for Spanish speakers).

The posters feature real people whose smoking caused negative health consequences and who are telling their stories as part of CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers public education campaign in the U.S.  Their situations include the following which will help smokers realize the link between their smoking and these potential negative health effects:

  • Cancer (lung, throat, brain, etc.)
  • Heart disease/heart attack
  • Respiratory conditions (asthma, etc.) from exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Worsening of HIV/AIDs
  • Premature birth and birth defects
  • Gum disease and tooth loss

In 2012, the first year of the Tips From Former Smokers campaign, 1.6 million smokers tried to quit as a result of seeing the campaign. In July 2014 the third phase of the program was launched nationally.  If you are a U.S. health care provider, many of your patients will hear these messages from former smokers about the toll that smoking-related disease can take. These messages may cause some of your smoking patients to think about quitting. They may seek your professional advice on how to get started. For those patients who are ready to quit, you can be the motivation they need to become former smokers themselves.

If you work outside of the United States, think about whether the “Talk With Your Health Care Team” materials could be adapted for use in your country.  If you are interested in using or adapting the posters, please contact Shelley Hammond at aqq7@cdc.gov in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

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About the Author: Karen Gutierrez & Shelley Hammond are contractors with CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.