Objectives: The focus on acute care, time pressure, and lack of resources hamper the delivery of smoking cessation interventions in the emergency department (ED). The aim of this study was to 1) determine the effect of an emergency nurse-initiated intervention on delivery of smoking cessation counseling based on the 5As framework (ask-advise-assess-assist-arrange) and 2) assess ED nurses’ and physicians’ perceptions of smoking cessation counseling.
Methods: The authors conducted a pre-post trial in 789 adult smokers (five or more cigarettes/day) who presented to two EDs. The intervention focused on improving delivery of the 5As by ED nurses and physicians and included face-to-face training and an online tutorial, use of a charting/reminder tool, fax referral of motivated smokers to the state tobacco quitline for proactive telephone counseling, and group feedback to ED staff. To assess ED performance of cessation counseling, a telephone interview of subjects was conducted shortly after the ED visit. Nurses’ and physicians’ self-efficacy, role satisfaction, and attitudes toward smoking cessation counseling were assessed by survey. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the effect of the intervention on performance of the 5As, while adjusting for key covariates.
Results: Of 650 smokers who completed the post-ED interview, a greater proportion had been asked about smoking by an ED nurse (68% vs. 53%, adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.3 to 2.9), assessed for willingness to quit (31% vs. 9%, adjusted OR= 4.9, 95% CI = 2.9 to 7.9), and assisted in quitting (23% vs. 6%, adjusted OR = 5.1, 95% CI = 2.7 to 9.5) and had arrangements for follow-up cessation counseling (7% vs. 1%, adjusted OR = 7.1, 95% CI = 2.3 to 21) during the intervention compared to the baseline period. A similar increase was observed for emergency physicians (EPs). ED nurses’ self-efficacy and role satisfaction in cessation counseling significantly improved following the intervention; however, there was no change in “pros” and “cons” attitudes toward smoking cessation in either ED nurses or physicians.
Conclusions: Emergency department nurses and physicians can effectively deliver smoking cessation counseling to smokers in a time-efficient manner. This trial also provides empirical support for expert recommendations that call for nursing staff to play a larger role in delivering public health interventions in the ED.
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