Quit Connect Helps Black Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Quit Smoking

African American Man Smiling

An innovative program helped Black patients with rheumatoid arthritis to quit smoking, according to a new paper in Arthritis Care & Research. The program, Quit Connect (QC), prompts clinicians to refer patients to programs that help them address their smoking,

At a safety-net rheumatology clinic, QC increased cessation referrals 20-fold. When clinic staff open their electronic health records, QC prompts them to check with patients about tobacco use, advise them to address it, and connect them to counseling. QC improved tobacco screening, readiness-to-quit assessment, and referrals. QC was also feasible and cost-effective. Each quit attempt cost approximately $4 to $10.

A flowchart on how Quit Connect works

Staff found the intervention feasible and acceptable.

During two years in this safety-net rheumatology clinic serving predominantly Black patients, 58.9% of patients indicated readiness to cut back or quit smoking when asked. Post-implementation, among 550 visits with patients who smoked, 102 people accepted a referral to either a quitline or a class to address their tobacco use.

The authors, which included UW-CTRI Research Director Dr. Megan Piper, said that, given the importance of smoking cessation to reduce cardiovascular disease and rheumatic disease burden, QC is a model for clinics across the country.

Brandt J, Ramly E, Lim SS, Bao G, Messina ML, Piper ME, Bartels CM. (2024)  Implementing a Staff-Led Smoking Cessation Intervention in a Diverse Safety-Net Rheumatology Clinic: A Pre-Post Scalability Study In a Low Resource Setting. Arthritis Care & Research. Online April 15, 2024.