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Telemedicine for Smoking Cessation in Rural Primary Care

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In rural America cigarette smoking is prevalent, few cessation services are available, and physicians often lack the time or resources to help smokers quit. This project examines whether telemedicine counseling that is integrated into rural physician practices can outperform standard quitline counseling for smoking cessation. This is the second and final revision of this application. The study is conducted through 25 rural physician practices in Kansas. Medical students on rural preceptorships will recruit patients who are smokers into the trial. Self-Determination Theory guides the structure of study components and the analytic plan. Patients will be randomly assigned to receive a standard telephone quit line intervention (QL) or an integrated telemedicine intervention (ITM). Patients in QL will receive 4 sessions of quitline counseling delivered by telephone in their homes. Patients in ITM will receive 4 sessions of telemedicine counseling delivered by 2-way webcams mounted on desktop computers in their physician office examining room. Webcams are paired with powerful software, Polycom PVX, that permits document sharing and other activities for a highly interactive counseling experience free of the "freeze-ups" and audio delays common with standard webcams. QL and ITM counseling will be delivered by professional smoking cessation counselors from the University of Kansas Medical Center Campus. The counseling protocol involves an autonomy-supportive approach. Fidelity monitoring will ensure the content remains the same across both study arms. Both groups will receive paper-copy Quit Tips and individually-tailored quit plans and pharmacotherapy guidance. However, all aspects of ITM will be integrated into primary care practice: sessions will take place in the physician's office;study materials will be completed and printed for ITM patients during each counseling session via the telemedicine computer printer, and copies of session materials will be printed for insertion into the patients'medical record. We hypothesize that ITM will outperform QL by enhancing perceived support from the counselor through the video interface, and by facilitating more autonomy support from the patients'health care team, including support for quitting, support for using medications to quit, and access to pharmacotherapy prescriptions. We project that 566 patients, 283 in each study arm, are necessary to detect differences between abstinence rates in QL and ITM at 12-months post enrollment. We hypothesize that ITM will be more costly, but also more cost- effective, than QL. Counseling fidelity monitoring and strong clinic support will ensure optimal implementation. The investigative team has expertise in smoking cessation research, telemedicine, clinical cost- effectiveness research, and quality improvement in primary care. The intervention is delivered in collaboration with one of the oldest and most successful telemedicine programs in the U.S. This intervention provides a venue for reaching a large population of rural smokers who have poor access to smoking cessation services. It has strong potential for widespread adoption, and future adaptation for other pressing issues such as obesity. Public Health Relevance: Cigarette smoking is prevalent in rural areas, and physicians often lack the time and resources to help smokers quit. This project examines whether telemedicine counseling that is delivered through physician offices is effective for smoking cessation among rural smokers. The potential health impact is large because the prevalence of smoking is high in rural areas, access to smoking cessation services is low, and new rules for Medicare reimbursement creates a strong potential for widespread adoption.

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