The US Department of Veterans Affairs awarded a new $1 million grant to the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison to be the first ever to evaluate a chronic-care system designed to help veterans who are not ready to quit smoking. Led by UW-CTRI Researcher Dr. Jessica Cook, the team will implement the grant at the VA, offering telemedicine visits for all veterans who smoke, including rural veterans who cannot afford to drive into Madison for visits.
Many veterans become addicted to tobacco during their military service.
“It’s a way of giving back to veterans who have sacrificed a great deal during their service,” Cook said, “by assisting those who need it most.”
The Enhanced Chronic Care treatment will provide ongoing motivational interventions and interpersonal support to veterans who use tobacco but are not ready to quit. The treatment is designed to encourage veterans to use evidence-based tobacco treatment and, ultimately, to help them quit. Cook will work with UW-CTRI colleagues Elana Brubaker and Kirsten Webster to build on past success helping veterans quit by offering:
- Counseling and medications to veterans who are ready to quit smoking.
- Counseling and medications to those not ready to quit but who are willing to modify their smoking patterns, with cessation treatment ready if they request it.
Treatment focused on modifying smoking patterns is a notable addition to chronic care because it can help people gain some control over their smoking by changing when and where they smoke. Cook views smoking-pattern modification as an attainable first step in the path towards quitting that feels more approachable for some smokers, and can help build skills and confidence that can help them eventually quit.
In the new study, researchers will recruit 250 veterans who smoke to receive the Enhanced Chronic Care intervention, and another 250 to receive Standard Care (brief advice to quit once per year). Participants who are ready to quit will receive counseling and combination nicotine-replacement medications from the VA Tobacco Treatment Clinic. Those who elect to use treatment to modify their smoking patterns will receive nicotine gum or nicotine lozenges, in addition to counseling. The research team will examine whether Enhanced Chronic Care helps participants quit long-term, whether it increases the use of tobacco interventions, and whether it’s feasible to implement at the VA.
“We hope this study will help us identify an effective smoking treatment strategy for VA clinical practice,” Cook said. “Helping more veterans quit smoking will improve the health of veterans across the VA.”
Veterans who smoke and are members of the VA in Madison, Wisconsin may receive $40 for calling 608-280-2213 to learn more about the study. For more information, visit: https://ctri.wisc.edu/vets2/