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A Pilot Trial of Proactive Versus Reactive Referral to Tobacco Quitlines

  • Ky Stoltzfus (a1), Edward F. Ellerbeck (a2), Suzanne Hunt (a3), Vance Rabius (a4), Beatriz Carlini (a5), Candace Ayers (a6) and Kimber P. Richter (a7)...


Overview:Many U.S. hospitals use fax-referral to quitlines to provide outpatient follow-up. It is important to understand whether it is better to refer all smokers, or only those ready to quit, to quitline services. The purpose of this pilot project was to evaluate the feasibility and intermediate out-comes of a proactive (offering fax referral to all smokers) versus a reactive (pre-screening for readiness to quit within the next 30 days) approach to quitline fax-referral. Method:We employed a pre-test, post-test comparison group design in which a script-based reactive approach was employed over a two-week period and a script-based proactive approach was employed in the following two-week period. Scripts were inserted into the counselling protocols of a pre-existing inpatient treatment program. Major Findings:We enrolled 45 patients — 25 during the reactive, and 20 during the proactive block. In the reactive group, 12 (48%) indicated that they were ready to quit smoking and accepted fax-referral to the quitline. Nine (75%) were successfully contacted and enrolled in the quitline, for an overall quitline enrolment rate of 36% (9/25). In the proactive group, all accepted fax-referral to the quitline and 11 were successfully contacted and enrolled by the quitline for an overall enrolment rate of 55% (11/20). Quitlines were able to reach and enrol a higher proportion of patients referred to them, when patients were pre-screened for readiness to quit. Offering quitline referral, regardless of readiness to quit, potentially expands the reach and possibly the impact of quitline counselling.


Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Ky Stoltzfus, M.D., Dept of General and Geriatric Medicine, U. Kansas Medical Center, 3901 Rainbow Boulevard, Kansas City, KS 66160 U.S.A.



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