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Online Course Teaches Health Care Professionals to Help Patients Stop Smoking

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Northwest Area Health Education Center (AHEC) at Wake Forest University School of Medicine has developed an online interactive course to teach health care professionals how to help their patients quit smoking.

“This is a wonderful approach to help teach physicians tobacco intervention,” said John G. Spangler, M.D., M.P.H., who recently published research showing that most medical schools don’t do enough to train students to help their patients quit smoking.

“This course is concise, practical and comprehensive,” said Spangler, an associate professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. “It guides you through material regarding the epidemiology and health effects of smoking and specific ways to counsel patients to quit. I enjoyed testing myself on this material—and learned quite a bit in the process.”

In the Sept. 4 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, Spangler and colleagues reported that one-third of the medical schools they studied spent three hours or less teaching smoking cessation counseling and that more than two-thirds of schools didn’t require any clinical training in smoking-intervention techniques.

“Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, so it is important to fill this gap in physician education,” said Michael Lischke, Ed.D., AHEC director. “This course is easily accessible to health care professionals and provides proven tools to help patients change their behavior.”

The course was developed through a grant from the Duke Endowment for a project called “Women’s Health: Interventions for Smoking Cessation.” One of the project’s goals was to improve the smoking cessation knowledge of health professionals who serve women of childbearing age.

To access the course, “Counseling for Change: Quit Smoking,” and test your knowledge of smoking cessation, go to: http://northwestahec.wfubmc.edu/learn/smokingcessation/index.htm

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