Emergency Nurse Implementation of the Brief Smoking-Cessation Intervention: Ask, Advise, and Refer

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Abstract

Problem:

Smoking is the single most avoidable risk factor for many health problems such as cardiovascular disease and pulmonary dysfunction. Emergency departments provide care for many patients who smoke. Patients who smoke and are discharged to home from emergency departments do not customarily receive smoking-cessation information. This project explored the feasibility and acceptability of a brief smoking-cessation intervention as part of emergency nursing practice.

Methods:

This practice improvement project was conducted in a large midwestern emergency department. A review of data from 12 months before the project revealed a 17.6% prevalence of smoking among patients discharged from the emergency department with no patient having received smoking-cessation information, confirming the need for intervention. A survey of emergency nurse attitudes and learning needs indicated that nurses believed offering advice to quit was appropriate but that they had limited smoking-cessation training. A total of 83 nurses received training on an “Ask, Advise, Refer” protocol.

Results:

Evaluation after training indicated that emergency nurses gained knowledge about brief smoking-cessation intervention methods, and 75.7% (n=74) felt adequately trained. During the 12-week intervention, data were collected on 7,465 emergency visits. Nurses advised all smokers to quit using the protocol, and 6.3% of patients accepted smoking-cessation referrals.

Implications for Practice:

Emergency nurses felt comfortable performing the smoking-cessation intervention, suggesting that training was effective. Data indicated that patients were consistently advised to quit smoking. Results suggest that brief smoking-cessation interventions are feasible and acceptable in emergency settings. The training and protocol could be used in other emergency departments, and lessons learned can guide future efforts by emergency nurses to help patients quit smoking.

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