Integrating evidence-based tobacco cessation interventions in free medical clinics: opportunities and challenges

Health Promot Pract. 2012 Sep;13(5):687-95. doi: 10.1177/1524839911433465. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Background: Free medical clinics serve a critical role in health care delivery of America's uninsured population, who are less likely to receive tobacco cessation counseling and 1½ times more likely than the general population to use tobacco. The authors evaluate the opportunities for and challenges to implementing the U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for tobacco cessation in free clinics.

Methods: Six free clinics participated in this pilot study. Five objectives were targeted: implementation of a tobacco user identification system, education of all clinic staff and volunteers, dedication of a program champion, use of evidence-based treatment, and creation of a supportive environment that reinforces provider behavior. Key informant interviews and focus group data were used to describe the opportunities and barriers of implementing the Public Health Service Guidelines.

Results: All clinics adopted a user identification system, dedicated a program champion, adopted evidence-based counseling, and created an environment conducive for cessation. Common challenges included getting volunteers to attend on-site training programs, accessing nicotine replacement therapy, and promoting Quit Line usage, all of which are part of evidence-based treatment.

Conclusion: With more than 1,200 free clinics nationwide, it is very important to understand the opportunities and barriers of implementing tobacco cessation services and systems in free clinics.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Environment
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration
  • North Carolina
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Program Development
  • Smoking Cessation / economics
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / economics*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / methods*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / diagnosis
  • United States