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The so-called safety net clinics, which were set in place with the intention of making medical care available to individuals who would otherwise not afford it, are at times failing their smoking patients. Research keeps indicating that individuals hailing from disadvantaged backgrounds are always more likely to smoke than others, hence why it is even more crucial that such clinics address smoking.

Uninsured patients have the lowest odds of receiving the preferred combined treatment for smoking cessation.
Lead author Dr. Steffani Bailey, a family medicine researcher at Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine in Portland and her team, examined electronic health records from 136,314 smokers at 143 clinics across 12 states between 2014 and 2016. The researchers looked into what type of smoking cessation assistance these patients received, if any. They found that the odds of receiving both counseling and medication, which is known to be the best combination, was lower amongst patients of all ethnicities combined, than they were amongst whites.

 

“We need to ensure that all patients, particularly in these settings, are getting access to the assistance that they need to help them to quit smoking,” said Bailey. The study also indicated that patients who have Medicaid, the government insurance for low-income individuals had a 17% higher chance of receiving the combination of counseling and medication, when compared to commercially-insured patients. Sadly, uninsured people had the lowest odds of receiving the combined treatment.

Largest study of its kind

Bailey pointed out that while other such studies have also used electronic health record data, this is the first study to examine predictors of smoking cessation assistance by analyzing such a large sample. The lead author added that her team plans to interview patients and providers whilst also observing clinic visits in order to better understand the situation and the circumstances under which a smoking addiction is not being addressed appropriately.

Read Further: Reuters

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