Nurses who advice patients to give up smoking may be more successful than anyone else in helping patients kick the habit, according to a new study in the July-August 2006 Nursing Research journal. "These reports are evidence that nurses are widely recognized as central to global efforts to reduce the detrimental health effects of tobacco use," said Dr. Molly C. Dougherty, Nursing Research editor and professor of nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Nursing Research articles contain tobacco cessation information including original research evaluating methods for treating tobacco dependence. For example, one study found that smokers who received tobacco cessation information from their nurses were nearly 50 percent more likely to quit than smokers with no nursing intervention. The report also notes that nurses often care for underserved people, who are disproportionately affected by tobacco use.
Summaries in the journal highlight innovative methods for treating tobacco dependence and practical approaches for clinical use, including recommendations from 42 researchers, clinicians, educators and representatives from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Cancer Institute.
"This information represents a call to action for nurses, health care providers and policy-makers. Health care professionals, and particularly nurses, have tremendous access to patients and families affected by tobacco use. Nurses are in the unique position to act as agents of change when it comes to preventing and treating tobacco dependence," Dougherty said.
Nurses - the largest group of health care professionals - can have an expanded impact on tobacco cessation, the report says. To treat tobacco dependence, researchers recommended widespread training of nurses to deliver interventions to patients. They also recommended examining the prevalence of smoking among health care providers themselves, citing research that shows health care providers who smoke are less likely to intervene on behalf of their patients who smoke.
Despite efforts to reduce smoking in the last decade, there are still more than 45 million smokers in the U.S., according to the editors of the report, Dr. Linda Sarna of the University of California Los Angeles and Dr. Stella Aguinaga Bialous with Tobacco Policy International. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., resulting in more than 400,000 deaths a year - one out of every five.
The special issue is sponsored by the Tobacco Free Nurses Initiative through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.