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Am J Prev Med. 2009 Apr;36(4):337-40. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.12.004. Epub 2009 Feb 6.

Clinical faxed referrals to a tobacco quitline: reach, enrollment, and participant characteristics.

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  • 1State of New York Department of Health, Tobacco Control Program, Albany, New York 12237-0675, USA.



Faxed referrals from healthcare providers may provide a sustainable, low-cost mechanism for enrolling tobacco users in statewide quitlines, but few studies have evaluated implementation in real-world settings. This study evaluated the reach rates, enrollment rates, and participant characteristics of faxed referrals to the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line.


This observational study analyzed reach and enrollment rates from June 2006 to October 2007. Demographics and tobacco-use characteristics of 1616 Quit Line enrollees recruited through faxed referrals were compared to those of enrollees who were not fax-referred.


A total of 6951 faxed referrals were received during the study period, increasing from an average of 68 per month before promotional initiatives to 412 per month during the study period. However, almost 60% of fax-referred individuals could not be reached for enrollment. Compared to other enrollees (n=36,273), fax-referred enrollees (n=1616) were more likely to be women, aged >/=35 years, have less than a high school education, have at least one comorbid condition, and be uninsured or publicly insured.


Faxed referrals from healthcare providers are widely promoted to increase quitline participation and to assist providers in implementing cessation treatment. This study found low enrollment rates from faxed referrals; substantial efforts led to relatively few patients receiving quitline services. However, faxed referrals may reach populations who traditionally have less access to cessation aids. More research is needed to determine how to efficiently and effectively solicit faxed referrals from healthcare providers and to increase quitline enrollment rates among fax-referred smokers as well as to determine the extent to which faxed referrals influence quit outcomes.

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