What are the qualifications of professionals who run smoking cessation groups?

Qualifications of those who run smoking cessation groups vary. People who run smoking cessation programs may be health professionals, health educators, or skilled volunteers. Others have a background in substance abuse, are ex-smokers, and those who have witnessed the ill-effects of smoking, such as nurses and respiratory therapists. The American Cancer Society encourages people to make sure that the program leader has had training in smoking cessation counseling.

Some people are interested in alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, laser acupuncture treatment, electrostimulation, and hypnotherapy. Studies have not shown that these alternative or complementary therapies are effective in the treatment of tobacco use. Additionally, an independent review of nine hypnotherapy trials by the Cochrane Group found insufficient evidence to support hypnosis as a treatment for smoking cessation. Credentialing of these professionals should be carefully investigated. Most accredited acupuncture schools require at least two years of undergraduate study prior to admission; others require students to complete a bachelor's degree. Other training facilities do not require any prior education or experience. It is important to note that there are differences in success rates depending upon the type and number of clinicians utilized (Table 8).

What is my healthcare professional's role in my smoking cessation?

The role of the healthcare professional is to assist you in selecting the quit assist method that is best for you, teach you tips on how to help yourself with the challenges of quitting, guide you through the steps to stop smoking, and support you during the withdrawal phase. If you are in a smoking cessation group, the counselor or professional will facilitate the group discussion and assist the group members to support each other.

table 8 success Rate of Patients Who Quit smoking

success Rate of Patients Who Quit smoking

Prior to your decision to quit smoking, your primary healthcare provider should have assessed your smoking history in order to make recommendations about the various resources that are available to help you to quit. Fifty to seventy percent of smokers see their primary healthcare provider each year. All clinicians, particularly primary healthcare providers, are uniquely poised to intervene with patients who use tobacco. Smokers frequently cite a physician's advice to quit as an important motivator for attempting to stop smoking. A physician's advice to quit can increase the odds for success by 30%. A population-based survey found that less than 15% of smokers who saw a physician in the past year were offered assistance to stop smoking and only 3% had a follow-up appointment to address tobacco use. Health professionals should follow the Five A's with every patient:

Ask about smoking.

Advise quitting.

Assess willingness to make a quit attempt.

Assist in a quit attempt.

Arrange a timely follow-up.

How much does a smoking cessation program cost?

The cost of smoking cessation programs varies from almost nothing to hundreds of dollars. Many health plans and worksites provide free quit-smoking programs, and some health plans cover the cost of medications to help smokers quit. We recommend that you check with your insurance carrier or employer for information. But before investing your time or money in a program, ask yourself the following questions:

Is there a cost to me? If so, how much?

Is the program convenient for me?

Is the staff well trained and professional?

Does the program meet my needs?

What is the success rate of this program?

A physicians advice to quit can increase the odds for success by 30%.

What are the program leader's credentials?

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