The impact of a brief tobacco-use cessation intervention in public health dental clinics

Judith S. Gordon, Judy A. Andrews, Edward Lichtenstein, Herbert H. Severson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background. Public health dental clinic patients use tobacco at disproportionately high rates. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a tobacco-use cessation program delivered via public health dental practitioners. Methods. Two public health dental clinics participated in this quasiexperimental design study. First, all patients in one clinic who used tobacco (n = 178) received usual care. Next, the authors trained all practitioners to conduct a tobacco-use assessment and provide a brief cessation intervention. Subsequently, all patients in both clinics who used tobacco (N = 190) received the intervention. All enrolled patients had an income at or below the federal poverty level. The authors conducted follow-up assessments at six weeks and three and six months after enrollment. Results. Differences in self-reported quitting by condition between participants in the two groups were significant across all endpoints. Patients in the intervention group were more likely to quit than those receiving usual care (15.5 versus 4.3 percent) and after 12 months (18.8 versus 4.6 percent). Controlling for enrollment differences between patients in the two groups (age, race/ethnicity, time to first cigarette after waking), the authors found that differences between groups were significant for quitting at three months (P < .05; odds ratio [OR] = 4.85; 95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 1.20, 19.60), and six months (P < . 01; OR = 5.25; 95 percent CI = 1.35, 20.36). Conclusions. The results of this study suggest the viability and effectiveness of delivering a tobacco intervention to low-income smokers via public dental practitioners. A randomized clinical trial is warranted. Clinical Implications. The potential reach of public health dental clinics is great. Because of the high percentage of tobacco-using patients in these clinics, the public health impact of a program such as the one reported here would be significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Cessation
  • Intervention
  • Low income
  • Public health
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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