Increasing Proactive Referrals to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine

TobaccoShortTermTargetStudies have shown that when healthcare providers advise patients to quit tobacco and assist them in accessing treatment services, the percentage of patients who succeed in quitting long-term goes up. Research also shows that counseling tobacco users improves quit rates, and that tobacco counseling provided over the phone is as effective as counseling provided in person.1

The Maine Tobacco HelpLine provides tobacco users counseling by phone and when appropriate, provides medication support. Evaluation of the HelpLine has demonstrated that these services are effective. Tobacco users who receive support from the HelpLine are two to three times more likely to successfully quit tobacco long-term than those who try quitting on their own.

Providers in MaineHealth organizations are focused on increasing the number of tobacco users who are advised to quit and proactively referred to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. A proactive referral means:

  1. A provider sends an electronic referral to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine for a patient to receive counseling.
  2. HelpLine staff register the patient and a counselor calls him/her.

To help increase the proactive referrals, clinical teams at MaineHealth practices are receiving training about the process and efficacy of referring to the HelpLine. In addition, performance feedback reports are disseminated monthly to clinical leaders across the MaineHealth system.

As a result, the number of patients referred to the HelpLine increased substantially from April through December 2017. The total number of tobacco users referred in 2017 (2,996) was 30 percent higher than in 2015 and 45 percent higher than in 2016.

Referring Patients to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine

Referring patients to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine is a reliable and evidence-based treatment option for busy clinicians and other healthcare professionals. This video follows one patient's experience with the Maine Tobacco HelpLine.

1 Fiore, M., Jaen, C., Baker, T., et al. Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. [Clinical Practice Guideline]. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Service. (May 2008). Retrieved from (March 2017)


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