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Seeing a Nurse Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health

August 12, 2006 -- Today some sites posted an unsigned UPI piece about new research on the important role nurses can play in helping patients stop smoking. The piece, "Nurses can help patients quit smoking," is extremely short. But it is an example of very good press coverage of nursing research, underlining the key contributions nurses make in addressing one of the most urgent global health problems.

The piece notes that research published in the journal Nursing Research shows that "a few well-chosen words from a nurse can play a part in convincing smokers to quit." The item suggests that the research was based on several studies. One reportedly found that patients who got information on how and why to quit from nurses were an astonishing 50 percent more likely to do so. The piece says another study found that nurses are especially effective because "they are the health-care professionals usually seen by the medically underserved." Providing key context, the piece notes that about 45 million people "still" smoke in the U.S., and that "researchers say cigarettes are the biggest single cause of preventable death." The piece includes a short quote from "Dr. Molly C. Dougherty, nursing research editor and professor of nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill," who says that "[t]hese reports are evidence that nurses are widely recognized as central to global efforts to reduce the detrimental health effects of tobacco use."

It's amazing how many things this piece does right in less than 150 words. It highlights nursing research, and explains how important nurses are in countering one of the deadliest global health threats. It captures nursing's emphasis on prevention, and nursing's special role in meeting the health needs of the underserved. It quotes a nursing scholar, includes her full academic title and affiliation, and lets readers know that she has a doctorate. At the same time, the piece avoids the suggestion that nurses are basically good at holding smokers' hands, and it resists the urge to get its lone expert quote from a physician. The piece might have briefly explored why nurses might be especially effective at helping patients quit. For instance, could it be because of the holistic focus of nurse training? Because nurses develop special expertise in seeing so many underserved patients, or because of nurses' high overall level of patient contact? Or because nurses see a disproportionate number of patients who smoke?

We thank UPI for this very good piece.

See the article "Nurses can help patients quit smoking" that was posted on the Monsters and Critics and St. Tammany websites on August 12, 2006.

The Monsters and Critics web site contains a discussion board following the article. On that board, one correspondent recommends a free online guide on how to quit smoking, Joel Spitzer's "Never Take Another Puff. A friend of the Center who is working to quit smoking also found the guide persuasive. Nurses might consider it as one resource to help your patients--or the nurses themselves--quit smoking.

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