Tobacco Cessation Training for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners: Results of a Practice-Based Trial

Am J Prev Med. 2016 Aug;51(2):e35-e44. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.02.017. Epub 2016 Apr 6.


Introduction: Brief behavioral intervention (BI) is a tobacco-cessation best practice well established among conventional healthcare practitioners. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners treat significant numbers of tobacco users, but do not systematically receive BI training. The CAM Reach study developed and evaluated a tobacco cessation BI training program/practice system intervention adapted specifically for CAM practitioners, and evaluated in real-world CAM practices.

Study design: Single-arm intervention. Data were collected in 2010-2014 and analyzed in 2015.

Setting/participants: Private practices of 30 chiropractors, 27 acupuncturists, 42 massage therapists (N=99), in metropolitan Tucson, Arizona.

Intervention: Eight-hour tobacco cessation BI continuing education workshop, in-office BI skills practice/assessment, and system intervention. Training tailored to the CAM practice setting addressed tobacco cessation best practices from the U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines.

Main outcome measures: Seventeen items (assessing practitioner behavior, motivation, and self-efficacy with tobacco cessation) comprising three factors, Tobacco Cessation Activity, Tobacco Cessation Motivation, and Non-CAM Tobacco Cessation Comfort, were assessed at baseline and 3, 6, 9, and 12 months post-training by practitioner self-report. Research staff visited practices at approximately the same intervals to directly observe changes in clinical practice systems.

Results: At 3 months, there were significant increases in practitioners' tobacco cessation activities, motivation and confidence in helping patients quit tobacco, and comfort with providing information and referrals for guideline-based tobacco cessation aids (p<0.0001). Practitioners significantly increased rates of discussing cessation medications with patients (AOR=3.76, 95% CI=1.84, 7.68), and routinely asking about tobacco use in clinical practice (AOR=2.62, 95% CI=1.11, 6.20). Increases occurred across all three practitioner types and were sustained at 12 months-despite heterogeneity in professional training, practice patterns/organization, and practice business models.

Conclusions: Results suggest CAM practitioners are willing and able to offer BIs, and are an important, yet overlooked channel for promoting tobacco cessation and use of evidence-based cessation aids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arizona
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Education, Continuing*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tobacco Use Cessation / methods*