Ministry of Health - Tobacco Health Target - NEWSFLASH
posted by Carl Billington on 25 June 2012
CONTACTING PATIENTS & OFFERING BRIEF ADVICE OVER THE PHONE
As a number of practices look at ways of incorporating modern technology and creative approaches to reaching patients – whether its letters, text messaging, or phone calls – the key thing to keep in mind is that the whole aim of this is to support more successful quitting outcomes for greater numbers of people: 'Better help for smokers to quit,' in the words of the Health Target. We encourage practices to think creatively and explore initiatives that will resonate with the particular needs of their patients, but to keep the end outcome in mind. None of these approaches should be considered a surrogate for offering patients a direct interaction with their GP or Nurse.
In terms of providing smoking cessation advice and support by phone, this can be a very effective way of engaging with some smokers, and it still enables a direct interaction with an appropriately qualified health professional. It is important to consider the training of the person making the call, ensuring they are equipped to offer effective brief advice and are knowledgeable of the cessation services they are referring people to.
Contacting patients and offering brief advice over the phone has been demonstrated to be even more effective when patients are sent a letter in advance, advising a call will be made to offer patients advice and support to quit. It is also important that patients clearly perceive the letter and any follow-up calls as coming from, or being made clearly on behalf of, the GP or practice.
As long as an appropriately trained healthcare practitioner (ideally a GP or Nurse) conducts the discussion with the smoker offering support, this approach meets the criteria for brief advice. Experience suggests around 15% will wish to accept the offer of cessation support, and a process for providing this support needs to be in place.
Smoking cessation support is an integral part of primary care and should be offered to smokers at all opportunities. While recognising the multiple pressures operating during patient contacts with GP surgeries, it is desirable that quit options are offered as often as possible. Directly contacting smokers by phone extends the offer of support and, if recorded in the clinical notes, it also provides an opportunity for further, follow-up discussions next time the patient pops into the practice.
Hope that helps a little.