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.

BREATHE will be the first study to test a chronic-care model for patients who relapse to smoking with a factorial study design. The primary goals of BREATHE are to:

1. Help more patients alter their smoking by reaching out to those who aren't quite ready to quit, as well as those who are, and to continue to assist participants throughout various phases of preparation, quitting, relapse, and recovery back to quitting.
2. Create a system to help patients quit that can be implemented in any primary-care setting, including which treatments work best for which patients at various stages of a quit attempt, and in what combination. 

3. Devise a practical, cost-effective system that uses electronic health records to help smokers reduce or cease smoking.