Tobacco Treatment Outreach to Reduce Disparities for Primary Care Populations

2014-08-27 03:12:25 | BioPortfolio


The objectives of this project are to develop and evaluate a multi-level approach to tobacco treatment for low-SES and minority patients. The components of this intervention would include Integrated Voice Response(IVR)-facilitated systematic outreach, linkage to a tobacco treatment specialist, free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) directed at the patient, and integration of this program with both an individual's primary care physician through an electronic health record (EHR), as well as referral to community resources to address the socio-contextual barriers to tobacco cessation. To achieve these objectives, this intervention will test an innovative model of systematic outreach to low-SES and minority smokers using systematic phone outreach (including cell phones which are particularly prevalent among minority and low-SES groups), coordinated with the PCP, using both a cost-effective technology and a dedicated tobacco treatment specialist to increase smoking cessation in these populations. The proposed intervention will have multiple levels of influence (patient, PCP) and provide linkages to community resources. If successful, this model could be generalized to other health systems with an EHR, which are increasingly being promoted to improve the safety and quality of health care.

Hypothesis 1 (Reach and Effectiveness): An EHR-linked, IVR-mediated personalized treatment program for low-SES and minority smokers can reach these patients to increase quit rates and use of tobacco treatment effectively.

Hypothesis 2 (Adoption and Implementation): An EHR-linked, IVR-mediated personalized treatment program for low-SES and minority smokers can be adopted across a variety of practice settings and be consistently implemented across diverse patient populations.


Because 70% of smokers have seen a PCP within the past year, primary care represents a valuable platform for reducing disparities in tobacco use that could be made more effective. The current national focus on expanding the use of EHRs also makes the proposed model to identify smokers with the goal of reducing disparities in tobacco use particularly timely. The adoption of EHRs in practices serving minorities is similar to that in all practices, suggesting that there is not a "digital divide" for PCP practices. In addition, the proposed intervention is novel because it addresses tobacco use at multiple levels (i.e., individual, health care setting, community), and is designed to provide smokers with tools to address socio-contextual contributors to disparities in tobacco use. Finally, the intervention will be informed by a broad approach using community resources for tobacco cessation. Conceptual models and empiric data suggest that this type of broad approach is needed to reach low-SES and minority smokers to reduce disparities in tobacco use. Telephone outreach may be particularly effective for minority and low-SES populations because cell phone penetration is higher in these populations. While disparities in tobacco use are rooted in social and economic problems that extend beyond the domain of health care and traditional treatment models, the health care system still represents a critical opportunity to initiate intervention.

Although smoking has declined over the past decades, substantial socioeconomic disparities in smoking prevalence, risk of addiction, and tobacco-related disease remain in the US, particularly among different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Despite relatively similar rates of tobacco use, for example, African Americans (a term used interchangeably with "blacks" throughout this proposal) suffer from a higher burden of tobacco-related disease, particularly lung cancer, than whites. Importantly, low socioeconomic status (SES) and minority smokers also have a relatively more difficult time quitting for several reasons, including more limited access to treatment, misinformation about the risks and benefits of treatment, more environmental exposure, lack of social support, and other life stressors.

Primary care physicians (PCPs) are an important source of tobacco treatment, as the majority of smokers visit a PCP each year. While the US Public Health Service strongly recommends that clinicians identify and treat every tobacco user, such an approach is largely dependent on busy clinicians to provide counseling and treatment during a brief visit. Minority and low-SES smokers are more likely than whites to report that they did not receive counseling or treatment during a visit. For these reasons it is important to offer systematic opportunities for tobacco treatment beyond the provider's office, in addition to improving "best practices" for cessation treatment. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a phone technology that allows a computer to detect voice responses during a normal phone call (including calls from mobile phones). This technology offers a low-cost, efficient way to reach out proactively to large populations, independent of a visit. IVR scripts can be translated into other languages, facilitating systematic outreach to diverse populations. This technology can provide direct linkage to a tobacco treatment specialist, who can provide personalized advice for cessation, mood management, and stress reduction, and provide a course of free nicotine replacement treatment (NRT), as well as linkage to relevant community resources. Smokers who use NRT as part of their cessation plan are more likely to succeed than those who do not, and free NRT is a particularly important intervention for low-SES and minority smokers.

Specific Aim 1: To develop an EHR-linked, IVR-mediated personalized tobacco treatment program for low-SES and minority smokers. To develop this program, we will first conduct formative qualitative research to identify the particular barriers to smoking cessation faced by these populations and subsequently, to create a Community Resource Guide to address socio-cultural barriers to cessation.

Specific Aim 2: To measure the effectiveness of this personalized treatment program by conducting a randomized controlled trial of low-SES and minority smokers in 12 clinics from the Partners Primary Care Practice Based Research Network (PPC-PBRN). Patients in the intervention group will be offered three contacts with a tobacco treatment specialist over a 12 week period, a free 6-week supply of nicotine patches, and linkage to local resources using the Community Resource Guide. Patients in the control group will receive visit-based "best practices" care facilitated by EHR decision support (received by both the intervention and the control group). The primary outcome of this trial will be the 7-day abstinence rate at 6 months.

Specific Aim 3: To evaluate facilitators and barriers to the reach, adoption, and implementation of this personalized tobacco treatment program.

This project fits well with other projects in the Lung Cancer Disparities Center (LCDC), complementing the other projects that seek to explain disparities in lung cancer at the molecular, neighborhood, and societal levels. Over 80% of those diagnosed with lung cancer are current or ex-smokers, supporting the critical importance of smoking cessation to reducing disparities in lung cancer.1 Our project adds another layer by focusing on the individual/ clinical interface to reduce disparities in tobacco use.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Health Services Research




Tobacco Treatment


Brigham and Women's Hospital
United States


Not yet recruiting


Brigham and Women's Hospital

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:12:25-0400

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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

Efforts directed at preventing SMOKING of TOBACCO and non-tobacco products.

SMOKING of non-TOBACCO (or NICOTINE-containing) substances.

The process of SMOKING specific to TOBACCO.

Discontinuation of the habit of smoking, the inhaling and exhaling of tobacco smoke.

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