UW-CTRI Staff Present at Conference Focused on Vulnerable Populations

UW-CTRI staff presented 5 posters at the National Conference on Tackling Tobacco Use in Vulnerable Populations in Bethesda, Maryland.

UW-CTRI Outreach Specialist Allison Gorrilla presented 2 posters on her work with the Wisconsin American Lung Association and the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance. UW-CTRI Researcher Dr. Bruce Christiansen presented 3 posters on helping behavioral health patients quit tobacco use.

Gorrilla’s first poster, “Benefits of Smoke-free Multi-Unit Housing,” shared results from the work of ALA’s smoke-free housing initiative, Clear Gains. Clear Gains aims to protect vulnerable populations from the adverse effects of secondhand smoke by promoting smoke-free multi-unit housing and assisting multi-unit housing owners and managers.

“I have partnered with Deborah Grayson, Program Manager of Clear Gains to educate multi-unit housing owners and managers on how tobacco-use and secondhand smoke disproportionately impacts the health of multi-unit housing residents, who often are low-income and suffer from co-morbid mental health or other substance-use disorders,” Gorrilla said. “Additionally, I provided information on the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line as a cessation resource for residents once a smoke-free policy is in place.”

Her second poster, “Opening the Doors to LGBTQ+ Tobacco Prevention in Milwaukee: A Community Readiness Assessment,” presented the work of City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance’s LGBTQ+ Tobacco Workgroup. The workgroup consists of TPCP partners and organizations serving the Milwaukee LGBTQ+ population.

“The goal of the Community Readiness Assessment was to learn how to best engage the LGBTQ+ community to address the disproportionately high rates of tobacco use in their community,” Gorrilla said. “The results of the assessment showed the LGBTQ+ community in Milwaukee has little to no awareness of the tobacco-use disparity in their community, and does not see tobacco use as a high-priority health issue.” Gorrilla said next steps are to implement strategies appropriate to this level of readiness: Build overall awareness of the issue through media, create useful messaging/literature, and meet with community stakeholders to build a network to reduce this disparity through targeted community efforts.

Christiansen presented 3 posters featuring his work on helping patients with behavioral health issues to quit tobacco use, including:

  • “Low Budget Project for Behavioral Health Integration.” This poster discussed the progress the Wisconsin Nicotine Treatment Integration Project (WiNTiP) has made over the last 8 years, from collecting information to building awareness to training providers to mini-grants to surveys and now building an online training site. Christiansen presented on behalf of his co-authors on the WiNTiP steering committee, which include colleagues from the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, Journey Mental Health, the Wisconsin Division of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Services, and UW-CTRI.
  • “Measuring the Integration of Tobacco Control Policy and Tobacco-Dependence Treatment into the Behavioral Healthcare Delivery System: How Are We Doing?” This poster, based on results from a WiNTiP survey, concluded that, despite the compelling case for integration, the current level of comprehensive integration in Wisconsin behavioral-health treatment programs is modest, at best. Programs need integration training and technical support in order to integrate.
  • “Motivating and Preparing Smokers who have Severe and Persistent Mental Illness to Quit Smoking.” Christiansen presented this poster on behalf of his co-authors, Erin TerBeek of UW-CTRI and Julianne Carbin of NAMI Wisconsin. This study demonstrated that a brief, 4-session intervention that combined motivational activities with preparation for a quit attempt resulted in a greater willingness on the part of patients to engage in the quit process and a greater quit rate 3 months later.

From left: Deb Heffner, Coordinator of the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance, and Anthony Harris, the Statewide Program Manager with Diverse and Resilient, co-presented a poster with UW-CTRI Outreach Specialist Allison Gorrilla.