Tag Archives: smoking

SmokerStop App Review: A Motivational Tool for Your Patients

Douglas Maurer, DO/MPH/FAAFP | August 2, 2018

Tobacco use remains the #1 preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. Overall, cigarette smoking among U.S. adults (aged ≥18 years) declined from 20.9 percent in 2005 to 15.5 percent in 2016. Still nearly 38 million

smoking cessation info graphic for article, SmokerStop App Review: A Motivational Tool for Your PatientsAmerican adults smoked cigarettes in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). National efforts have included tobacco taxes and smoking bans which have both proven effective.

More recently, the prescribing of apps for cessation has been utilized and shown to be effective. We recently reviewed and praised the outstanding QuitMedKit from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. The app includes nearly everything the primary provider would want to have to aid patients in tobacco cessation: the 5A’s approach, information on medications for cessation, tips on motivational interviewing, graphics to assist in cessation, and links to online resources.

The QuitMedKit app does not include much information tailored to patients regarding personal health and financial goals. The SmokerStop app by Dr Titus Brinker in Germany uses personal motivation as its primary smoking cessation technique. The app uses data input by the patient to calculate health information such as reduction in blood pressure, lung cancer risk, as well as financial goals such as when an ex-smoker will have enough cash for movie tickets, an iPhone, etc. The app also allows patients to put in their own goals. All of this information is tracked by the app and reminders are periodically sent to to the patient to help keep them motivated.


Updated Osteoporosis Screening Guidelines Released by USPSTF

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published its final recommendations this week on the screening of women for osteoporosis to prevent fractures. The updated guidelines include level B recommendations for the screening of women aged 65 years and older, as well as for younger women who have experienced menopause and also have an increased risk.

graph of osteoporotic fractures compared to other diseases for article, Updated Osteoporosis Screening Guidelines Released by USPSTF“Osteoporosis causes bones to weaken and potentially break, which can lead to chronic pain, disability, loss of independence, and even death,” the USPSTF said.

“Clinicians can help women avoid fractures by routinely screening those who are 65 and older, as well as younger, postmenopausal women at higher risk for osteoporosis — such as women who have low body weight, who smoke cigarettes, or whose parent has broken a hip.”

The final recommendations, which were published online June 26 in JAMA, apply to older adults without a history of prior fragility fractures or health conditions that could weaken bones.

The USPSTF noted that evidence was insufficient to determine whether men would benefit from osteoporosis screening to prevent fractures.

“While both men and women can develop osteoporosis, there’s less evidence to know whether screening and current treatments prevent fractures in men without a history of fractures,” USPSTF vice chair Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH, said in a news statement.

“More studies are needed that look at how well treatments work in men who have not had a fracture,” he said.

In updating its similar guidelines from 2011, the USPSTF conducted an evidence review of 168 articles on the issue of osteoporosis screening that were determined to be of fair or good quality.


Want to Decrease Disability by 53%?

According to a recent issue of Health Affairs, all we have to do is completely eliminate five risk factors: smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension.

Easy, right?

 graph showing risk factors ofsmoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension leading to disabilitiesI find it amazing that these risk factors contribute to (potentially, depending on the credibility you lend the study) more than half of all disability in this country.

And given that the study (Preventing Disability: The Influence of Modifiable Risk Factors On State and National Disability Prevalence) is written from a non-work comp perspective, I view this as more of challenge in our industry (where we accept the whole person and have relatively little influence over pre-injury behavior).

If the theoretical elimination of all five risk factors is a bridge too far for you, consider a more conservative analysis contained in the study: If each risk factor was reduced to the level of the “best performing” state (i.e., if all states mirrored the nation’s lower obesity rate of Colorado), we would observe a decline in disability prevalence of approximately 7%. And disability rates in regions where prevalence is highest (South, Appalachia, and Great Lakes) would drop more than 10% under such a scenario.

But our starting point is grim. In the 18-54 age cohort, nearly 70% of US adults have more than one of the five risk factors. In the 55-64 cohort, it’s about 90%. And in the 65-79 category, about 95%.

This isn’t just clinical, it’s cultural.


Poor Health and Safety Practices Hurt Job Performance

 06/01/17   Simply Work Comp

How do you reduce absenteeism and presenteeism in your employees?

Simpsons workplace safety posterMaintaining a safe workplace and encouraging health and wellness in the workplace may be part of it, according to two recent studies.

CDC measures the cost of chronic conditions

In an October 2016 CDC report, researchers measured the costs of absenteeism in employees with five conditions – hypertension, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity and obesity.

How costly were the missed workdays? In the billions of dollars.

The researchers estimated that each of the conditions cost employers more than $2 billion per year in excess absenteeism. The most expensive of these, obesity, was calculated at $11.2 billion. In their findings, hypertension caused the most missed workdays per employee and cost nearly $300 per employee per year.

For each condition, employees missed an estimated one to two workdays per year. Those with multiple conditions had more missed days.

Study finds workplace safety impacts job productivity

Another study, published in Health Affairs, measured productivity losses from another angle and found similar results to the CDC report.

The researchers looked at factors such as previous workers’ compensation claims, chronic health conditions and how physically or cognitively demanding a job was to measure health-related productivity losses. They then calculated the predicted costs of absenteeism and presenteeism per person per year.

The study, “Chronic Conditions, Workplace Safety, and Job Demands Contribute to Absenteeism and Job Performance,” found that these factors contributed to both absenteeism and presenteeism. The study was conducted by the Integrated Benefits Institute, Segue Consulting and the Colorado School of Public Health Center for Health, Work and Environment.

While absenteeism was measured in the number of sick hours taken in the last four weeks, the study authors acknowledge that presenteeism can be difficult to measure. They asked employees to rate their poor job performance on a scale from 0 (best) to 10 (worst) and converted the metrics into annual costs. They write, “There is

They write, “There is good reason to believe that presenteeism—when employees come to work but perform at lower levels than usual because of health reasons—often accounts for more lost productivity than absenteeism.”

Study findings:

  • Chronic health conditions and previous workers’ compensation claims contribute to higher absenteeism and presenteeism.
  • Workers with more chronic health conditions had proportionally more cases of absenteeism and presenteeism.
  • Employees with physically demanding jobs reported higher absenteeism, while more cognitively demanding jobs were linked to presenteeism, and “presenteeism is highest when jobs are both physically and cognitively demanding.”
  • The combination of multiple risk factors often led to increased absenteeism and presenteeism, such as employees who had both physically demanding jobs and a workers’ comp claim in the past year.
  •  Employees with none of these factors had lower presenteeism and absenteeism


Life Expectancy Can Vary By 20 Years Depending On Where You Live

There’s more grim news about inequality in America.

New research documents significant disparities in the lifespans of Americans depending on where they live. And those gaps appear to be widening, according to the research.

Longevity age gap


You can see an interactive version of this map here.

“It’s dramatic,” says Christopher Murray, who heads the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. He helped conduct the analysis, published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Health experts have long known that Americans living in different parts of the country tend to have different lifespans. But Murray’s team decided to take a closer look, analyzing records from every U.S. county between 1980 and 2014.

“What we found is that the gap is enormous,” Murray says. In 2014, there was a spread of 20.1 years between the counties with the longest and shortest typical lifespans based on life expectancy at birth.

In counties with the longest lifespans, people tended to live about 87 years, while people in places with the shortest lifespans typically made it to only about 67, the researchers found.

The discrepancy is equivalent to the difference between the low-income parts of the developing world and countries with high incomes, Murray notes.

For example, it’s about the same gap as the difference between people living in Japan, which is among countries with the longest lifespans, and India, which has one of the shortest, Murray says.

The U.S. counties with the longest life expectancy are places like Marin County, Calif., and Summit County, Colo. — communities that are well-off and more highly educated.

Continue reading Life Expectancy Can Vary By 20 Years Depending On Where You Live

The War on Smoking Expands to the Job Market


workers smoking on a beam suspended from skyscraperThere is no doubt that smoking cigarettes is not conducive to living a healthy lifestyle, and few places have done more to eradicate smoking than California. Ever since California became the first state to ban smoking in 1995, it has been spearheading the war against smoking tobacco. This was followed by a ban on smoking within 20 feet of a public building in 2004, and smoking in a car with a minor in 2008.

These bans seem to have struck a major blow in the fight for a smoke-free California, but some argue that the bans infringe on civil rights. With recent reports of companies that refuse to hire smokers, the issue of exactly what rights smokers have, and whether refusal to hire them qualifies as discrimination have come to light. From the company’s point of view, it’s understandable to not want a worker that is going to be taking a large amount of smoke breaks and racking up higher insurance premiums, not to mention the potential for unhappy, non-smoking coworkers who have to be exposed to it to some degree. But while laws have been put in place to prevent corporations from discriminating against sex, race, disability, and sexual preference, it is legal in 21 states to not hire smokers. Surprisingly, California is not yet among them.

Workplaces that Refuse to Hire Smokers

Early 2012, Baylor Health Care Systems of Dallas announced that it will refuse to hire smokers. They join companies like Cleveland Clinic, who has not hired anyone who tested positive for nicotine in the last five years. This trend is not limited to the health care industry. Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio and the Georgia Power company have followed suit, conducting tests in the hiring process that identify nicotine users. This begs the question of what’s next? Will those who engage in other unhealthy habits, like drinking alcohol, eating fast food, or abusing prescription drugs be the next ones to be refused jobs? Very likely, the offensive nature of smoking is what has become its downfall. Many non-smokers hate cigarettes, and with major moves that make smoking as cumbersome as it is harmful, the future for tobacco users looks more grim than ever.

Related Links

American Lung Association: http://www.lung.org/associations/states/california/

Cleveland Clinic: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx

Federal Tobacco Legislation: http://www.altria.com/en/cms/About_Altria/federal-regulation-of-tobacco/overview/default.aspx?WT.srch=1&WT.mc_id=FDA_Campaign

Get Employees to Take Health Seriously: What’s Working

Cheaper Healthcare
Cheaper Healthcare

Another consequence of the poor economy: Employees are cutting back on preventive healthcare measures in an effort to reduce expenses.

People are trading nutritional eats for processed and fast foods. They’re also spending less time exercising.

That means now’s a great time to refocus on preventive health care. If your company already has a wellness program, it’s a good idea to make sure these proven features are included:

3 areas to check

Referrals from claims and on-site screenings. Most wellness programs pinpoint at-risk employees by relying solely on the employees’ honesty in responding to health assessments.

Certain wellness program providers use a combination of data to determine those at-risk for chronic conditions.

Example: OptumHealth uses on-site health screenings, claims and referrals to assess if an employee is at-risk.

This approach can help to identify up to 10 times more at-risk employees.

Wellness consultants. These individuals are assigned to a company to help develop a wellness strategy, plan promotions, interpret reports and gauge the overall success of the company’s wellness program.

Benefit: By keeping a close eye on a company’s wellness program, consultants can tweak and fix problems on the spot.

Cross-trained coaches. These coaches take a big-picture approach to helping employees with various lifestyle-related health issues.

Example: Smoking. There are a significant number of people who won’t try to quit smoking simply because they’re concerned about gaining weight in the process — a common problem.

A cross-trained coach will help an employee quit smoking, while also ensuring that he or she makes smart nutritional choices to avoid the common weight gain.

If you would like help with a prevention and wellness program at your business please feel free to give contact Central Coast Industrial Care.
Ask for Cody Matthews, our Occupational Medicine Manager at (805) 614-9000

Originally Posted in: Communication, Health care, In this week’s e-newsletter – benefits, Latest News & Views, Pay and benefits