Introduction: This study examined the effectiveness of low-intensity, practice-tailored training for general practitioners (GPs) aimed at personal and organizational barriers that arise when routinely asking patients' smoking status, advising to quit, and arranging follow-up.
Methods: A cluster-randomized controlled trial with 49 GPs and 3,401 patients (677 smokers). Two patient groups participated: 2,068 patients (433 smokers) at baseline and 1,333 patients (244 smokers) postintervention. At follow-up, 225 smokers of both groups participated. The primary outcome was GP smoking cessation counseling (asking about smoking status, advising to quit, prescribing pharmacotherapy, and referring for behavioral support). Secondary outcomes were GPs' attitudes toward smoking cessation care, patients' intention to quit, and long-term quit rates. Outcomes were measured with GP self-report and patient report.
Results: Patients of trained GPs reported more often being asked about smoking behavior compared with patients of untrained GPs (OR = 1.94, 95% CI = 1.45-2.60). According to GP self-report, the training increased the provision of quit-smoking advices (difference 0.56 advice per day; 95% CI = 0.13-0.98) and the ability and intention of providing smoking cessation care. We found no effect on GPs' arrangement of follow-up, smokers' intention to quit, and long-term quit rates.
Conclusions: After 1 hour of training, we found significant differences between trained and untrained GPs on the frequency in which they asked about smoking (patient reported) and advised smokers to quit (GP self-reported). The training did not increase prescriptions of pharmacotherapy, referrals to behavioral support, or quit rates. Future training methods should focus on the GPs' ability, tools, and skills to arrange follow-up to ensure intensive smoking cessation support.