February 10, 2009
Research conducted here in Northwestern Ontario will soon
be published in a national medical journal. An article to
appear in the spring issue of The Canadian Journal of Rural
Medicine will present initial findings that led to the development
of an extensive smoking cessation program for hospitalized
Northwestern Ontario patients.
The article was authored by Dr. Patricia Smith, Associate
Professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Dr.
Scott Sellick, Director, Supportive Care at Thunder Bay Regional
Health Sciences Centre. Their research found that Northwestern
Ontario physicians actively encourage patients to quit smoking
at substantially higher rates than their counterparts worldwide.
“Physicians here set the bar high for physicians across
Canada,” says Smith. “We recognized this as an
opportunity to maximize their efforts and help hospitals to
standardize smoking cessation programs for patients.”
With a $270,000 grant from the Northern Cancer Fund, Drs.
Smith and Sellick conducted additional research and created
a program to enable healthcare providers to adhere to clinical
practice guidelines as they administer one-tothree minute
bedside interventions. Although guidelines have existed for
years, they were difficult to implement. “Our experiences
and the resources we have developed will facilitate a straightforward
implementation of the smoking cessation program in any hospital,”
“I am confident that cancer rates in our region will
be reduced because of this program,” says Sellick, who
works closely with patients of the Regional Cancer Care Program
at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. Smoking is
directly related to 85% of lung cancers, 30% of all other
cancers and to cardiac disease. Smith & Sellick’s
work will lead to decreased rates of cardiac disease in Northwestern
Ontario, which are currently the highest in Canada.
Smith & Sellick’s program has attracted attention
beyond the Canadian borders. In April, Smith will present
the program to international audiences at The Society of Behavioural
Medicine conference in Montreal and the Society for Research
in Nicotine and Tobacco conference in Ireland. Smith’s
2006 book, “Implementing an Inpatient Smoking Cessation
Program,” which has guided their research program in
Northwestern Ontario, became a best-seller and is used worldwide
to help hospitals implement programs to help interested patients
The smoking cessation program Smith & Sellick are helping
to implement in Northwestern Ontario is pertinent here, where
smoking rates are much higher than provincial averages, but
the tools created to assist hospitals to implement it are
relevant anywhere. “Our program is a comprehensive one
that will help interested patients in any community reduce
their risk for, and rates of, chronic diseases related to
smoking,” Smith explains.
Healthcare-related research projects like this one clearly
demonstrate the significant return on investment to the generous
people who donate to the Health Sciences Foundation, according
to Ken Bittle, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.
Although funding for the project was provided through the
Northern Cancer Fund, the benefits of the project extend to
patients who have or may develop a variety of diseases or
illnesses as a result of smoking.
“The people of Northwestern Ontario funded this research
and we will all benefit from it, directly or indirectly,”
says Bittle. “Drs. Smith and Sellick are to be commended
for realizing such positive outcomes in the healthcare environment
and recognition from their peers.”
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