Implementing a Fax Referral Program for Quitline Smoking Cessation Services in Urban Health Centers: A Qualitative Study

Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care, School of Medicine and Dentistry, New York University, New York, NY, USA.
BMC Family Practice (Impact Factor: 1.67). 12/2009; 10(1):81. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2296-10-81
Source: PubMed


Fax referral services that connect smokers to state quitlines have been implemented in 49 U.S. states and territories and promoted as a simple solution to improving smoker assistance in medical practice. This study is an in-depth examination of the systems-level changes needed to implement and sustain a fax referral program in primary care.
The study involved implementation of a fax referral system paired with a chart stamp prompting providers to identify smoking patients, provide advice to quit and refer interested smokers to a state-based fax quitline. Three focus groups (n = 26) and eight key informant interviews were conducted with staff and physicians at two clinics after the intervention. We used the Chronic Care Model as a framework to analyze the data, examining how well the systems changes were implemented and the impact of these changes on care processes, and to develop recommendations for improvement.
Physicians and staff described numerous benefits of the fax referral program for providers and patients but pointed out significant barriers to full implementation, including the time-consuming process of referring patients to the Quitline, substantial patient resistance, and limitations in information and care delivery systems for referring and tracking smokers. Respondents identified several strategies for improving integration, including simplification of the referral form, enhanced teamwork, formal assignment of responsibility for referrals, ongoing staff training and patient education. Improvements in Quitline feedback were needed to compensate for clinics' limited internal information systems for tracking smokers.
Establishing sustainable linkages to quitline services in clinical sites requires knowledge of existing patterns of care and tailored organizational changes to ensure new systems are prioritized, easily integrated into current office routines, formally assigned to specific staff members, and supported by internal systems that ensure adequate tracking and follow up of smokers. Ongoing staff training and patient self-management techniques are also needed to ease the introduction of new programs and increase their acceptability to smokers.

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    • "Simply knowing about the program may not be enough to promote consistent and sustainable referrals. Post intervention qualitative interviews with physicians and staff, the results of which are reported in another publication, support this premise [20]. Health care providers and staff in intervention sites described numerous benefits of the chart stamp and Fax-to-Quit systems but pointed out that those new systems, even ones that will ultimately simplify care processes, can initially interrupt workflow and must overcome organizational barriers to ensure full integration and sustainability [20]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Smoking cessation quitlines are an effective yet largely untapped resource for clinician referrals. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of a fax referral system that links community health centers (CHCs) with the New York State Quitline on rates of provider cessation assistance. This study was conducted in four CHCs using a quasi experimental study design. Two comparison sites offered usual care (expanded vital sign chart stamp that prompted providers to ask about tobacco use, advice smokers to quit, assess readiness, and offer assistance (4As)) and two intervention sites received the chart stamp plus an office-based fax referral link to the New York State Quitline. The fax referral system links patients to a free proactive telephone counseling service. Provider adherence to the 4 As was assessed with 263 pre and 165 post cross sectional patient exit interviews at all four sites. Adherence to the 4As increased significantly over time in the intervention sites with no change from baseline in the comparison sites. Intervention sites were 2.4 (p < .008) times more likely to provide referrals to the state Quitline over time than the comparison sites and 1.8 (p < .001) times more likely to offer medication counseling and/or a prescription. Referral links between CHCs and state level telephone quitlines may facilitate the provision of cessation assistance by offering clinicians a practical method for referring smokers to this effective service. Further studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of fax referral systems and to identify implementation strategies that work to facilitate the utilization of these systems across a wide range of clinical settings.
    BMC Health Services Research 01/2010; 10(1):25. DOI:10.1186/1472-6963-10-25 · 1.71 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We examined attitudes and practices regarding tobacco cessation interventions of primary care physicians serving low income, minority patients living in urban areas with a high smoking prevalence. We also explored barriers and facilitators to physicians providing smoking cessation counseling to determine the need for and interest in deploying a tobacco-focused patient navigator at community-based primary care practice sites. A self-administered survey was mailed to providers serving Medicaid populations in New York City's Upper Manhattan and areas of the Bronx. Provider counseling practices were measured by assessing routine delivery (≥80% of the time) of a brief tobacco cessation intervention (i.e., "5 A's"). Provider attitudes were assessed by a decisional balance scale comprising 10 positive (Pros) and 10 negative (Cons) perceptions of tobacco cessation counseling. Of 254 eligible providers, 105 responded (41%). Providers estimated 22% of their patients currently use tobacco and nearly half speak Spanish. A majority of providers routinely asked about tobacco use (92%) and advised users to quit (82%), whereas fewer assisted in developing a quit plan (32%) or arranged follow-up (21%). Compared to providers reporting <80% adherence to the "5 A's", providers reporting ≥80% adherence tended to have similar mean Pros and Cons scores for Ask, Advise, and Assess but higher Pros and lower Cons for Assist and Arrange. Sixty four percent of providers were interested in providing tobacco-related patient navigation services at their practices. Although most providers believe they can help patients quit smoking, they also recognize the potential benefit of having a patient navigator connect their patients with evidence-based cessation services in their community.
    Journal of Community Health 03/2010; 35(6):618-24. DOI:10.1007/s10900-010-9251-8 · 1.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fax referral programs quickly and economically can link smokers' visiting primary care clinics to state-based telephone quitlines. Yet, it is unclear how to optimize use of this strategy. To evaluate the potential of enhanced academic detailing in clinics (i.e., on-site training, technical assistance, and performance feedback) to boost utilization of a fax referral program called Fax to Quit. Participants were randomized to one of two intervention conditions. Participants were drawn from 49 primary care clinics in southeastern Wisconsin. The sample size was based on a power analysis in which the control intervention condition was estimated to generate 0.5 referrals/clinic/month and the experimental condition 2.0 referrals/clinic/month. One of two fax referral program interventions was administered: the control condition Fax to Quit-Only (F2Q-Only) or the experimental condition Fax to Quit plus Enhanced Academic Detailing (F2Q+EAD). Clinic- and clinician-specific referral and quality referral rates (those resulting in quitline enrollment) were measured for 13 months post-intervention, starting in March 2009. Mean number of post-intervention referrals/clinician to the Wisconsin Tobacco Quitline was 5.6 times greater for F2Q+EAD (8.5, SD=7.0) compared to F2Q-Only (1.6, SD=3.6, p<0.001). The F2Q+EAD (4.8, SD=4.1) condition produced a greater mean number of quality referrals/clinician than did the F2Q-Only (0.86, SD=1.8, p<0.001) condition. Data were analyzed in 2010. Enhanced academic detailing, which included on-site training, technical assistance, and performance feedback, increased the number of referrals more than fivefold over a fax referral program implemented without such enhanced academic detailing. This study is registered at NCT00989755.
    American journal of preventive medicine 01/2012; 42(1):21-8. DOI:10.1016/j.amepre.2011.08.028 · 4.53 Impact Factor
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