11:14am Wednesday 19 February 2020

Pharmacists to help smokers give up for good


stock smoking

The GIVE UP FOR GOOD program is the brainchild of a group of researchers led by Monash University researcher and qualified pharmacist Dr Johnson George of the Centre for Medicine Use (CMUS) and Safety. He will work with Professor Michael Abramson, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash, Dr Billie Bonevski, University of Newcastle, Professor Michael Dooley and Susan Poole, CMUS and Alfred Health, Dr Simone Taylor, Austin Health, and Gregory Weeks, Barwon Health.

Dr George said pharmacists, being medicines experts with a clear understanding of the physiological mechanisms of addiction, would be able to offer the kind of support necessary for patients who wanted to quit smoking. 

“The health benefits of quitting smoking, for people of any age, are clear and we’ve found considerable interest among in-patients with a smoking history in starting a smoking cessation program.”

“Research indicates that a hospital visit is an ideal time to commence a quitting program and we want to capitalise on this. Victorian hospitals are now smoke-free, but the support given to patients is often limited to the provision of nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum. We are going to offer targeted individual programs to patients – taking into account their addiction, motivation, barriers, concerns and quitting history,” Dr George said. 

“For example, if a patient was worried about gaining weight after quitting, we would organise for them to see a dietitian or a physiotherapist. If they had a history of failing to quit using patches, we would look into alternative drugs.”

The program will not end once the patient leaves hospital with the pharmacist contacting them several times after discharge. Details of the patient’s program will be passed on to their GP and community pharmacist, who will also provide on-going support.

“We’re going to assess the success of the program on discharge, and at one, six and 12 months after the patient leaves hospital.  We will verify the patients’ self reports of abstinence with biochemical tests,” Dr George said.

“If successful, this program could help solve a major problem for health professionals and policy-makers. We’re hoping it will become a routine service offered by hospitals.” 

GIVE UP FOR GOOD will be trialled at Alfred Health, Austin Health and Barwon Health in 2012 with participants recruited from patients. The project is supported by the Australian Research Council and a Pfizer industry grant.

Dr George expects to report on results in late 2013.

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