New Innovative Website Trains Behavioral Health Providers on How to Integrate Tobacco Treatment Into Standard Care

An innovative new website trains healthcare providers on how to help behavioral health patients to quit smoking. On the site, videos feature insight from providers who have integrated tobacco treatment into their recovery programs or mental healthcare programs. Providers can also use the site to develop a personalized treatment plan.

On the site, users can create an account, log in, watch videos, log out and return later. The site tracks each individual's progress. Users who complete the training can print out a certificate stating so. 

The site arrives at a time of great need. In Wisconsin, 1 in 5 programs are less than 20% of the way to integrating tobacco treatment into their standard care. Less than 5% of programs were 80% integrated. In other words, most programs aren’t doing enough to help their patients quit smoking.

While about 25% of the population has a behavioral health issue, they smoke nearly half of the cigarettes in the United States, according to the National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. 

"Behavioral health patients who quit smoking are more likely to recover from other addictions and to have lower levels of anxiety, stress, and depression," said Dr. Bruce Christiansen, UW-CTRI Researcher and Coordinator of the Wisconsin Nicotine Treatment Integration Program (WiNTiP).

During a recent statewide meeting in Madison, Christiansen dispelled the myth that behavioral health patients will relapse if they try to quit smoking while in treatment. He cited a 2004 study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology that showed patients were 25% more likely to quit their other addictions if they also broke their addiction to tobacco. 

Some healthcare providers still think that people with behavioral health issues who self-medicate their symptoms with cigarettes shouldn’t be helped to quit smoking. This is misguided, Christiansen said, pointing out a 2014 study in the British Medical Journal that showed behavioral health symptoms improve after quitting—including levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.

To start the free training: http://go.wisc.edu/4n5r36

$100 Incentive: For a limited time, behavioral health providers in Wisconsin may be eligible to receive a $100.00 incentive to complete the online training.  (This incentive is not available for providers outside of Wisconsin.) To apply for the incentive: http://go.wisc.edu/381fh3