CAM practitioners and smoking – an untapped resource?

A study has launched in the US focusing on the role of CAM practitioners in helping patients to quit smoking and the untapped potential that remains amongst CAM practitioners in helping to facilitate anti-smoking Brief Interventions {BIs}.

Researchers from the University of Arizona have developed The CAM Reach {CAMR} intervention – a tobacco cessation BI training and office system intervention tailored specifically for chiropractors, acupuncturists and massage therapists. The study will document the effectiveness of CAMR over a period of one year.

The 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) reported that almost forty percent of adults in the United States had used some form of CAM therapy in the previous twelve months. It is known that tobacco cessation BIs, such as querying patients about tobacco use and urging patients to quit, can increase quit rates amongst current smokers.

The researchers note that key questions remain regarding the role of CAM use in fostering sustaining behaviour change around tobacco use and other health related behaviours. For example, very little is known about the behaviours of CAM practitioners in regards to promoting healthy behaviour and if/how patients make use of CAM practitioners to support positive behaviour change.

“CAM practitioners potentially represent a large, untapped community resource for promoting tobacco cessation and use of effective cessation aids. Existing BI training is not well suited for CAM practitioners’ background and practice patterns, because it assumes a conventional biomedical foundation of knowledge and philosophical approaches to health, healing and the patient-practitioner relationship.”

“There is a pressing need to develop and test the effectiveness of Brief Intervention training that is both grounded in Public Health Service Guidelines for tobacco dependence treatment and also relevant and appropriate for CAM practitioners.”

The sample will encompass ninety practitioners, made up of acupuncturists, chiropractors and massage therapists working in the wider metropolitan area of Tucson, Arizona {thirty of each}. The study will also include samples of patients from each practitioner.

Primary outcomes measured during the study will include; rates of screening and delivery of BIs to tobacco users by CAM practitioners; the implementation of office system changes by practitioners and the CAM practitioner recommendations for PHS guideline-based tobacco cessation treatments to tobacco users. Secondary outcomes that will be measured, relating to tobacco-using patients include; the patients self-reported readiness to quit; quit attempts; the use of PHS guideline-based cessation treatments and resulting tobacco abstinence as measured by seven day point prevalence abstinence and prolonged abstinence.

“Results from the CAMR study will contribute to a better understanding of the role CAM practitioners can play in public health and the possibility of forming collaborative communities of practices around health behaviour change such as tobacco cessation.”

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