Brian Jennsen, MD

A parent’s love for a child is a powerful motivator. But when it comes to quitting smoking, often even the strongest motivation, in itself, is not enough. Only about 5 percent of smokers successfully quit each year, although many more try. That is why researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are refining processes and tools to help pediatricians help parents stop smoking. "The big picture is, we’re trying to protect children, and the best way to protect a child from secondhand smoke exposure really is to help the parent quit," said Brian Jenssen, MD, a primary care pediatrician and researcher in CHOP’s PolicyLab, who led two pilot studies of a process making it easier for pediatric clinicians to support parental smoking cessation.

Jenssen designed processes and tools built into pediatricians’ workflow to make it easier to connect parents to the right resources. This entails, first, a prompt in the child’s electronic medical record to remind pediatricians to screen for parents’ tobacco use by asking in a way that prior studies have shown to work well: "One of the best things you can do for your health and for the health of your child is to quit. What can I do to help you quit?" Next, the CHOP team’s intervention simplifies the process for pediatricians to prescribe the parent a nicotine patch or gum, if they express interest in using these therapies. Parents also receive a warm handoff to an adult tobacco treatment group to help them receive ongoing support.

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