UW-CTRI launched its primary research study, Breaking Addiction to Tobacco for Health (BREATHE) January 20 at the Dean Health Care clinic in Janesville and the Aurora Health Care clinic at Sinai Hospital in Milwaukee.

More than 100 referrals have already come in and health counselors are following up. Under the BREATHE project, any smoker who visits a participating clinic, regardless of the initial reason for the visit, is invited to get treatment through BREATHE. One goal of this study is to implement an electronic health record (EHR) system that increases smokers' recruitment into treatment. Another goal is to establish a highly effective chronic-care treatment with intervention components for all smokers.

First, the EHR system will be implemented in 18 clinics in two health-care systems and evaluated on its ability to increase the recruitment of smokers into chronic-care treatment (Project 1).

Then, using highly efficient research methods, researchers will compare multiple intervention components and identify especially effective interventions for every phase of smoking treatment. This package of components will: increase quitting motivation amongst smokers initially unwilling to quit and prepare them for cessation (Project 2), enhance quitting success and prevent relapse when smokers are ready to quit (Project 3), and re-engage relapsed smokers in treatment and restore their abstinence (Project 4). See Figure 1 for illustration.

These highly integrated research projects, supported by four cores, will thus implement a powerful new EHR strategy to efficiently recruit primary care patients who smoke into chronic-care treatment. 

Partners in this research include colleagues from Penn State University and the University of Illinois-Chicago, as well as Aurora Health Care, Dean Health System, and Epic. The BREATHE team has unique strengths in: smoking treatment research in healthcare settings, established collaborations with EHR vendors and primary care clinics, and research methods. This research will simultaneously advance both smoking treatment and treatment research methods. It's funded by a $12 million grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.