July 14, 2015

UW School of Medicine and Public Health Gets New $12 Million Grant

New "BREATHE" Study Will Help Smokers Quit

The University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI) has received a new $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute to help patients in the Milwaukee and Madison areas quit smoking. Under the project, Breaking Addiction to Tobacco for Health (BREATHE), UW-CTRI will work with Epic Systems of Verona to modify the electronic health record (EHR) systems at participating health clinics, in an effort to help more patients quit. Any smoker who visits a participating clinic, regardless of the initial reason for the visit, will be invited to get treatment through BREATHE.

UW-CTRI is collaborating with several health-care systems, including UW Health, Aurora Health Care, Dean Health System and MercyCare Health Plans. BREATHE will culminate in a treatment system any clinic could use to address tobacco use. 

“We have a chance to help the great majority of smokers that come in to see their doctor,” said UW-CTRI Director Dr. Michael Fiore, a co-leader of BREATHE. Recent UW-CTRI research shows that leveraging EHR can dramatically raise the number of smokers who will try to quit. 

Dr. Robert Golden, Dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, said BREATHE fills a critical need. “If someone asked you, ‘What kills more Americans every year than alcohol, suicide, homicide, AIDS, and car accidents combined?’, the correct answer would be ‘tobacco’. It causes needless suffering and costs millions to treat. Our health-care systems desperately need more efficient, comprehensive ways to address tobacco addiction. This $12 million grant will definitely move us towards that goal.”

Tobacco products kill approximately 480,000 Americans a year, and about 7,000 of those deaths are in Wisconsin, according to the CDC. 

Dr. Tim Baker, a co-leader of BREATHE, said the research is based on evidence that, for most patients, the best results are obtained when they go through several phases of treatment.  "Ideally, smoking treatments should first help patients toprepare to quit smoking, then to actually quit smoking, then to prevent relapse, and finally to recover from any slips,” Baker said. “This project will use new and powerful research methods to identify the most effective treatments for every phase of quitting.” 

UW-CTRI researchers are collaborating on BREATHE with colleagues from Penn State University and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

UW-CTRI is a nationally recognized research center founded in 1992 and committed to determining the nature of tobacco dependence and developing evidence-based treatments to assist smokers. UW-CTRI has generated more than $100 million in grant funding and assisted more than 200,000 smokers. UW-CTRI is part of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. For more information, visit www.ctri.wisc.edu.