Learning from Health Centers: Tobacco Cessation Measures that Work

Health care providers would love to reach Healthy People 2030 goals to reduce illness, disability, and death-related tobacco use and secondhand smoke. But these days this goal can feel daunting.

In 2020, NACHC partnered with the CDC to understand how the Million Hearts®Tobacco Cessation Change Package (TCCP) could serve health center staff better. For the pilot, NACHC partnered with the Louisiana Primary Care Association (LA PCA), the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers (OACHC), and three health centers in each location. The health centers involved found creative and smart strategies that proved to move patients toward their smoking cessation goals, while dealing with their acute health care needs.

The following health centers participated in the pilot:

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Tapping Health Center Assets and Expertise for Tobacco Cessation

The pilot’s main “lesson learned” was centered around the fact that when more members of the Care Team are involved in supporting a patient who’d like to quit smoking, then that patient is more likely to succeed.  This pilot explored ways to engage and empower a wider range of skilled professionals to become essential advocates and caregivers for tobacco cessation work at health centers. “Sharing the care” helps everyone.

Leaning on the Relationships Primary Care Associations and Health Center-Controlled Networks Build

Another powerful finding was that Primary Care Associations and Health Center-Controlled Networks (PCAs & HCCNs) can use their deep relationships with health centers and external partners, including state Tobacco Control Programs, to open doors for evidence-based staff training and resources. This includes strategies for motivational interviewing or opportunities for the dental clinic or pharmacy staff to learn easy ways to help. PCAs and HCCNs also provide access to localized patient and provider educational materials, ideas, data, (and sometimes funds) to support health centers with their tobacco cessation work.

What Really Works?

Health centers involved with this work tell us that success with Tobacco Cessation Change Program interventions was achieved when multi-skilled care teams built relationships with patients and had ongoing conversations about their care plans and efforts to quit smoking or vaping. Each Care Team member helped to build patience and trust in the process.

NACHC took everything learned during the two years of this pilot to create a unique and easy-to-use “Health Center Resource Guide for Tobacco Cessation”. This guide is modeled after the Million Hearts® original TCCP but is designed specifically for health center staff. It includes quick links to specific workflows, tools, and tips covering:

  • Key Foundations for Tobacco Control
  • Equipping Care Teams
  • Screening
  • Treatment
  • Referral and Follow-up
  • Electronic Health Records, Population Health Dashboards, and Billing

“We celebrated every small achievement for patients. Even a phone call or text to praise their efforts clearly helped patients stick to their goals. Acknowledge their success made a real difference.“ 

Charlene Wright, Family Health Services of Darke County

Learn more about NACHC’s work on tobacco cessation.