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Editor's Note
Mar 25, 2013

The Quitline Is Calling: Comment on “Ask-Advise-Connect”

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(6):464. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.4086

Few interventions are as effective to our patients' health as smoking cessation. However, finding time in a busy visit for the necessary counseling to help patients to quit remains a challenge. Quitlines have been a tremendous boon in this regard because they allow our patients to receive evidence-based counseling via the telephone. The question remains, how do we get our patients to call?

This useful study compared the standard referral method (giving the patient a business card referral to the quitline) with having the quitline call the patient directly (with patient permission). In both arms of the study, licensed vocational nurses and medical assistants assessed smoking status and counseled smokers to quit, thereby diminishing the burden placed on physicians to accomplish these goals during a given visit. Those patients who were called by the quitline were substantially more likely to enroll in treatment than those simply referred. This intervention is a practical one for increasing the use of quitlines that should be embraced by all primary care practices.