Tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and worldwide.
Although smoking rates have declined significantly over recent years, there are still far too many people who are smoking cigarettes putting themselves and others to risk.
According to CDC data, cigarette smoking causes nearly 500,000 deaths each year in the United States, which is more deaths than deaths caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearm-related incidents combined.
Overall mortality among smokers in the United States is about three times higher than that among similar people who never smoked.
The major causes of excess mortality among smokers are diseases that are related to tobacco smoking, including cancer, respiratory diseases, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
Quitting smoking cuts your risk for smoking-related diseases and can add years to your life.
However, quitting is not easy. Smoking tobacco is an addiction just like any other addiction, and it requires a lot of goodwill and motivation to stop.
This is a hard and long process full of obstacles. That's why people who want to quit need every help possible.
There are a lot of tools that can be helpful. Many of them are available for smartphones and tablets. QuitGuide app we reviewed is one of them. This mobile app is intended for people who want to quit their smoking habit once for good.
Many people, however, can't do this alone. Healthcare providers are supposed to step up and help treat cigarette smoking and nicotine dependence among their patients.
Unfortunately, providers often don't have sufficient time to provide thorough counseling and treatment during patient visits.
This is the reason why Alexander V. Prokhorov, MD, PhD and Mario Luca, MS, both working at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center developed an app called QuitMedKit.
The app is designed to assist healthcare providers in effective counseling and treatment of tobacco dependence among their patients, helping them quit smoking.
QuitMedKit app is available for free on Android and iOS devices. It requires no login or registration. Basically, users can download it from the store and start using it right away.
The app opens to the Home page which features six main sections. These sections include: Treating Tobacco Dependence, Counseling, Medications, Images, Tips, and Resources.
The 'Treating Tobacco Dependence' section provides treatment strategies as well as the evidence-based five‐step approach (5As) to smoking cessation counseling (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange).
The 'Counseling' section provides practical counseling tips on how to identify relapse situations, help patients develop coping skills, and provide them with smoking facts. This section also provides motivational interviewing tips, i.e. how to empathize with patients, deal with developed discrepancy and resistance, and support patient's self-efficiency.
Information in these sections is provided in a concise manner, often in bulleted paragraphs that make following tips easier, especially during patient visits.
The 'Medications' section contains the information regarding the most commonly prescribed and over the counter medications used to treat tobacco dependence, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and varenicline (Chantix), as well as other aids such as nicotine gums, patches, inhalers, lozenges, nasal sprays, or combination of these.
Each medication page contains medication image, cautions/warnings, side effects, dosage, use, and availability along with brand names.
As its name suggests, the 'Images' section contains images. However, there are only three images in this section, one depicting healthy and diseased lung, and the other two depicting lobectomy.
In my opinion, this is not enough. There should be more images showing various pathologies and consequences of smoking-related diseases. Visual warnings may be an efficient way to show your patients why smoking is bad for them.
Besides the tips for motivational interviewing and practical counseling, the QuitMedKit app also provides treatment tips in the 'Tips' section.
Finally, the app provides links to various resources, including the American Lung Association, CDC, and the National Cancer Institute, among others.
The app content is based on the clinical practice guidelines 'Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence' by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, published in 2008.
The content of the app is available in English, Chinese, and Spanish.
While the QuitMedKit app is designed to address tobacco counseling and treatment needs of primary care providers and specialists, as well as physician assistants and nurses, medical students also can benefit from this app.
Although there are a couple of things missing, such as more images or more detailed information on how to use motivational interviewing and 5As approach, an overall impression is that the QuitMedKit app is a useful tobacco cessation tool for busy primary care providers that can be used at the point-of-care.
Benefit: The app can be used by primary care physicians and specialists, physician assistants, nurses, medical students, or any provider who counsels patients on tobacco cessation