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Training provides smoking cessation tools to SE Ohio healthcare providers

Daniel Kington
October 14, 2016

With the rise of electronic cigarettes and vaping over the past few years, the landscape of tobacco use has shifted significantly, and health care providers who promote smoking cessation are left facing problems both old and new. To provide the resources that those providers need, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs co-hosted a regional event titled Changing Landscape of Tobacco Use and Treatment on August 31 with the Scioto County Health Coalition and the Ohio Department of Health.

The School has been committed to the promotion of smoking cessation in Southeast Ohio for many years. Since 2014, the School has directed a pilot project, Ohio Partners for Smoke Free Families (OPSFF), funded by the Ohio Department of Health. The project’s primary goal is to reduce smoking among southeast Ohio women before, during and after pregnancy, as well as reduce exposure to secondhand smoke for both reproductive-age women and their children. To accomplish these tasks, OPSFF works to train health care providers in six southeastern Ohio counties to promote the same simple message of smoking cessation. In order to be effective in this goal, however, providers need to have all the resources that they need.

Voinovich School research associate Coleen Dietch-Krubl is a member of the Voinovich School Planning, Education, Evaluation and Research (PEER) team involved with the Smoke Free Families project. She said that providers have increasingly expressed a need for both accurate, up-to-date information and the skills to leave the people they work with feeling empowered that they can quit.

“Many of the providers we’ve worked with through this project have expressed confusion or a lack of understanding about vaping, but know that it’s becoming more and more prevalent in their communities, so the idea of being able to bring some clarity to this issue was important to us,” Dietch-Krubl said. “Additionally, most providers also express difficulty in trying to move their patients and clients who smoke further ahead in their readiness to give a quit attempt a try. Therefore, providing training on motivational interviewing was also important because it gives these providers increased skills when discussing the idea of smoking cessation with a patient or client.”

Changing Landscape of Tobacco Use and Treatment attempted to address these needs. The training was offered to providers in all six southeastern Ohio counties with which OPSFF works: Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross and Scioto. Approximately 80 providers from these counties, as well as several providers from Kentucky, attended the daylong event at the Southeast Ohio Medical Center Friends Community Center in Portsmouth.

Timothy Milbrandt, MS, a nationally recognized tobacco treatment expert and director of the Tobacco Treatment Specialist Program at the Mayo Clinic, facilitated trainings on these subjects. During an exercise designed to help develop reflective listening skills among participants, Milbrandt had everyone up on their feet and laughing.

“Tim Milbrandt was an excellent and enjoyable trainer,” Dietch-Krubl said. “He kept things interesting and at times lively with a concise and clear presentation of information and the opportunity for all to practice what he was presenting in a way that was engaging and fun.”

In addition to materials provided by Milbrandt, each attendee received a data sheet developed by the Voinovich School detailing maternal tobacco use and child health statistics as well as health characteristics and outcomes specific to his/her county. As participants from the same county were seated together, these sheets were useful in generating discussions among table groups during a lunchtime networking activity.

Dietch-Krubl said she felt the training was an effective educational opportunity for providers.

“Participants were able to take away a better understanding of what vaping entails and where things stand with related research on its health effects as well as pending legislation and regulation,” she said. “Additionally, folks left with increased communication skills that can really be effective in improving the rapport they have with their patients and clients, allowing for more meaningful dialogues.”