The Association of American Medical Colleges will use a $500,000 grant to perform a national study of primary-care physicians and psychiatrists on the strategies and treatment options they use to help patients kick the tobacco-smoking habit.
The grant, announced today and awarded by the American Legacy Foundation, will fund research by the AAMC in collaboration with the Center for Health Workforce Studies at the School of Public Health, University of Albany, N.Y. Knowledge gained from the 18-month study will be used to help design effective smoking-cessation programs.
Edward Salsberg, director of the center, will be the principal investigator on the study. "The focus isn't so much on what works and what doesn't; it's really to understand how physicians are relating to their patients around smoking cessation, whether they feel they have the resources," he said.
The value of outside counseling and quit lines has been shown to be effective in helping people stop smoking, Salsberg said. But while some states have not invested heavily in these support systems, others have and "one would hope physicians would be more aware of that."
The research will also look at how cessation practices vary among specialties. In addition to psychiatrists, the researchers will survey family practitioners, internists and OB/GYNs.
"Some of the specialties have been trying to provide more resources to their members and more education," Salsberg said.
"We think that they (physicians) have a potential to play a more important role in helping Americans quit smoking," he said. "We're certainly not saying it's the sole responsibility of the physicians, we want to understand how they fit better into the array of resources."