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Hospitals' Smoking Cessation Advice

Wednesday May 18, 2005

Hospitals' Smoking Cessation Advice Bolstered By First-Ever Specialist National Training Course

Heart Foundation hopes to more than double trained field force with new initiative

Smoking cessation advice and records in hospitals around New Zealand look set to be significantly increased, with the first-ever "Train the Trainer" national training programme for hospital staff trainers rolling out today.

The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand's specialist smoking cessation educators Denis Barlow and Mark Wallace-Bell are training staff trainers from eight district health boards (DHBs) around the North and South Islands in a two-stage smoking cessation brief intervention course on May 18-22 and June 22-24.

These trainers will then be able to return to their workplace and train their own front line staff including medical and nursing personnel in brief intervention techniques. This means a new wave of potentially hundreds of healthcare staff will soon be able to assess patients who smoke, identify their level of readiness to quit, offer support or refer them to specialists, and recognise other related health issues.

"This course will have a large multiplier effect, significantly increasing our effectiveness in encouraging smokers to quit as well as preventing and treating related health problems, including heart disease," says the Heart Foundation's Cardiac Care Manager Stewart Eadie.

"Previously we've trained around 1000 front-line community practitioners a year, including some hospital staff, but by adding this train-the-trainer programme we're hoping we'll be able to more than double our trained smoking cessation field force around the country, and then see that number increase each year."

"Smoking remains one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease, which is the biggest single killer of New Zealanders each year. It must remain at the top of our public health agenda as there are still large gains to be made by progressing to a truly smokefree environment," Mr Eadie says.

As well as learning techniques to teach their staff to analyse, assist and refer the public on smoking issues, the course will also encourage hospitals to better record and document their patients' smoking history, by offering them standard processes and resources. This is in line with the government-subsidised 'Systems First' approach.

"We're hoping to create a recording process for smoking patterns in hospitals around the country, to ensure a patient's smoking history is well understood and acted on each time they are seen," Mr Eadie says.

Trainers will be required to undergo the course annually to update their knowledge and resources. This inaugural course is timely, given the national tobacco control focus during the month of May. World Smokefree Day is celebrated globally each year on May 31.

A second course will be run October-November 2005.

The Heart Foundation's train the trainer hospital course was funded by the Ministry of Health and developed by the Heart Foundation. It has been peer reviewed by several other health groups.

The Heart Foundation has offered smoking cessation training programmes to front-line practitioners since 1999, last year training more than 1000 practitioners around the country.

Both the practitioner training and the hospital trainers' programmes are offered by the Cardiac Care branch of the Heart Foundation, as part of a range of programmes aimed at reducing lifestyle factors that put people at risk of heart disease.

The Heart Foundation is a member of the Smokefree Coalition.

Smoking facts:

* Within one day of quitting your chance of having a heart attack decreases
* Within two days of quitting your ability to smell and taste improves
* Within three months of quitting your circulation improves and you can breathe more easily
* Within five years of quitting your risk of having a heart attack is reduced to the level of someone who has never smoked[1]
* Second hand smoke is the leading environmental cause of preventable death in New Zealand - it's estimated around 350 New Zealanders are killed by other people's tobacco smoke each year[2].
* Children are especially vulnerable to second hand smoke as their vital organs are smaller and more delicate
* World Smokefree Day is May 31 - see for more information
Source: Heart Foundation and Tobacco Control Facts at a Glance leaflet


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