Telephone counseling a successful smoking cessation tool

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 10, 2006

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Smokers who receive telephone care and counseling for smoking cessation have higher rates of success than those who receive routine care by health care professionals, according to a study in the March 13 Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers studied 837 daily smokers (751 men and 86 women) who received care at five Veterans Affairs medical centers in the upper Midwest. The 417 individuals in the telephone protocol received seven calls over a two-month period, with additional calls as needed at the discretion of the counselor. There were an average of 7.7 counseling sessions by telephone over the following year. The 420 smokers in the standard care group were mailed self-help materials and had continued access to smoking cessation services through their medical center.

After three months in the study, nearly 40% of the telephone care group had not smoked in the previous seven days, compared with 10% in the standard care group. At the one-year mark, 13% of the telephone care group and 4% of the control group had abstained from smoking for the previous six months.

Compared with the those in the standard care group, those in the telephone group also were more likely to use other techniques to help them stop smoking, including smoking cessation counseling programs and medications.

"At a minimum, telephone care for smoking cessation should be made available to veterans who are interested in stopping smoking," the authors conclude.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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