More than 20 Tucson acupuncturists are taking part in a University of Arizona project to combat the No. 1 preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S.: smoking.
The acupuncturists are collaborating with the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine on the study, called Project Reach.
As part of Project Reach, acupuncturists participate in training sessions and receive follow-up support that give them skills and tools to help patients quit tobacco. The training offers information about tobacco use and its physiological effects.
Project Reach also teaches communication skills that encourage and support behavior change – rather than threaten or lecture the smoker – while providing essential information about quitting techniques and local resources for extra support.
"Acupuncturists are important members of the health care community," said Myra Muramoto, professor of family and community medicine and director of Project Reach. "People see them for treatment of a variety of health problems that are made worse by smoking."
"By participating in the Project Reach training, these practitioners now have more knowledge and skills to help their patients quit smoking," she said.
Research shows that having even brief, supportive conversations with tobacco users about quitting tobacco use can improve their chances of making a quit attempt.
But to date, training on how to talk to tobacco users about quitting has focused mainly on conventional medicine practitioners, largely overlooking other community-based health care and wellness practitioners who see tobacco users in their client and patient populations.
There is a pressing need to offer this kind of training beyond conventional medicine, and that is what Project Reach seeks to accomplish, Muramoto said.
She aims to test the effectiveness of continuing education training for practitioners and tobacco cessation materials such as posters, pamphlets and educational handouts accessible in practice offices.
The project will answer question such as:
- Do participating practitioners find the tobacco cessation support materials useful, practical and relevant?
- Do practitioners and staff use the skills, information and materials they gathered during the training?
- Do clients or patients of participating practices make changes toward quitting, use services to help them during the process, or make an attempt to quit using tobacco?
Smoking and other tobacco use are the direct cause of many forms of cancer, as well as heart disease, respiratory disease and other health problems. Tobacco use also interferes with disease treatment and recovery.
The study is funded by the National Cancer Institute.