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Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2001 Aug;80(8):560-2.

Promoting smoking cessation in the rehabilitation setting.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Providence College, and Southern New England Rehabilitation Center, Rhode Island 02918, USA.


Cigarette smoking is a known risk factor in patients with ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. Smoking also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, peptic ulcers, and cancer of several organs among middle-aged individuals and the elderly. In the elderly, smoking has also been associated with a general decline in physical functioning as a result of the increased incidence of chronic illnesses. The prevalence of smoking among community-dwelling adults aged 65 to 74 yr has been estimated to be 18% for men and 15% for women. More than 30% of Americans who are hospitalized each year are smokers. Although there are no published studies that have established the prevalence of smoking in a rehabilitation population, these data and our own clinical experience suggest that smoking continues to be a significant health problem for many persons who enter the inpatient rehabilitation setting. Because most hospitals have adopted a smoke-free policy, hospitalization itself may initiate a period of nonsmoking in patients who were smokers at the time of their admission. In addition, some smokers choose to quit smoking after stroke or other medical crisis caused by the health risks associated with cigarette smoking. However, research has also revealed a rather low-smoking cessation rate (30%) among smokers who have had a transient ischemic attack despite the health benefits associated with smoking cessation. Given the significant health risks associated with cigarette smoking, particularly in the elderly and those with cerebrovascular compromise, the effects of smoking on the patient's health should be discussed with the patient during inpatient rehabilitation. Unfortunately, given the current healthcare demands of reducing lengths of hospitalization and the focus on functional outcomes, health promotion issues, such as smoking cessation, nutrition, exercise, may not receive the attention that they deserve. Despite these constraints, we believe that the inpatient rehabilitation setting provides an opportunity for a "teachable moment" to introduce the idea of smoking cessation to the active smoker or to encourage continued smoking cessation and relapse prevention to those patients who have not smoked since their admission to the acute care hospital. If instituted in an effective manner, we believe that there could be significant healthcare benefits in establishing a formal smoking cessation or relapse prevention program in the rehabilitation setting.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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