Wednesday, 20 November 2002
Hilton San Francisco Exhibit Hall (0)

This presentation is part of CESS-186. Ideas on Cessation

Increasing Clinician Referrals to Quitline Services

Judi A. Mills, MPH, California Smokers' Helpline, University of California, San Diego,, Shu-Hong Zhu, PhD,

Learning Objectives: At the end of the presentation, attendees will be able to explain how to utilize effective outreach methods to increase clinician referral to a statewide quitline.

Abstract: Problem/Objective

Physicians are uniquely positioned to identify smokers and advise them to quit. However, time constraints often interfere with providing an intensive intervention. It is important that clinicians be aware of existing services that are effective in helping smokers quit. The California Smokers’ Helpline (CSH) is a free statewide telephone cessation service with proven effectiveness that provides a resource for clinicians with patients who smoke. This study explored efforts to raise clinicians’ awareness of CSH services.


Various direct mail methods were used to promote CSH services and promotional materials to clinicians. These included cold and partnered mailings and ‘thank-you’ notes to clinicians who referred smokers. To facilitate evaluation each mailing response order form had a unique identifier.


CSH clients citing clinician referral has increased from 6,239 in 1998 to 9,000 in 2001. Sixteen percent of clinicians responded to ‘thank-you’ notes as measured by requests for additional materials, partnered mailings resulted in 4 to 6.5% response rate, whereas cold mailings resulted in a 2% response.


It has been suggested that the healthcare system identify, document, and treat every tobacco user, yet clinicians face increasing time pressures. As healthcare providers become aware of CSH services referral of smokers has increased. Direct mailing is an effective outreach method to raise clinician awareness of existing services. However, mailings are most effective when partnering healthcare systems or provider associations support and recommend CSH services in a cover letter with the mailing.

Back to Ideas on Cessation
Back to Cessation, Nicotine, and the Science of Addiction
Back to The 2002 National Conference on Tobacco or Health