Abstract Background Distribution of tobacco cessation medications through state quitlines increases service utilization and quit outcomes. However, some state quitlines have moved to models in which callers are instructed to obtain quit medications through their health insurance pharmaceutical benefit. We aimed to investigate the impact of this policy on medication access and quit outcomes in the state quitline setting for clients who must obtain covered medications through the state Medicaid program. We hypothesized that clients with Medicaid who were referred by their healthcare provider would be more likely to report using quit medication and have higher quit rates compared to clients with Medicaid who engaged the quitline on their own. Methods An observational, retrospective study was conducted using state quitline clients with Medicaid health insurance who were ineligible for quitline provided cessation medications. Clients were stratified by referral type: self-referred, passively referred, and proactively referred. Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression was used to estimate the effect of referral type on both quit status and cessation medication use. Results Proactively referred clients were less likely to use quit medication (53.6%) compared to self (56.9%) and passively referred clients (61.1%). Proactively referred clients had lower quit rates (31.4%), as compared to passively referred (36.0%) and self-referred (35.1%). In adjusted models, proactively referred clients were significantly less likely to be quit than passively referred clients (OR = 0.75, 95% CI: 0.56, 0.99). There were no statistically significant differences in medication use or number of coaching sessions among proactive, passive, and self-referred clients in adjusted models. Conclusions In adjusted models, medication use did not significantly differ by mode of entry in this population of Medicaid beneficiaries. Psychosocial factors such as intention to quit in the next 30 days, social support for quitting, education level, race, and ethnicity impacted quit status and differed by mode of entry. Quitlines should use tailored strategies to increase engagement and reduce barriers among proactively referred clients.
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