Polaris Oncology System Encourages Smokers to Quit

Polaris Health Directions' oncology distress management system includes a tobacco screener and referral generator to encourage cancer patients to quit smoking. Dropping the habit may help improve the body's ability to heal and respond to treatment.

Langhorne, PA, July 17, 2012 --(PR.com)-- Screening cancer patients for tobacco use, and offering referrals for tobacco cessation programs may enhance the cancer treatment process. For smokers diagnosed with cancer, dropping the habit may help improve the body’s ability to heal and respond to treatment, such as from surgery or chemotherapy, and lower the risk for pneumonia and respiratory failure. Quitting may also lessen the likelihood of the cancer returning or another cancer emerging, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Yet a surprising number of cancer patients continue to smoke. Polaris Health Directions, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Medical School, MD Anderson Cancer Center and Cooper University Hospital, has been conducting an ongoing randomized clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of using an online outcomes assessment tool, the Polaris Oncology Distress Management System, to screen for and monitor psychosocial distress among cancer patients. The trial is supported with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

Embedded in the system are a brief screener for tobacco use and a referral generator for those patients who would benefit from smoking cessation services. Of the 836 patients enrolled in the trial, 45 percent had used tobacco on a regular basis at some point in their life and 10 percent reported having used tobacco on at least one day in the past 30 days. Seven percent admitted to using tobacco on 27 to 30 days of the last 30 days; 13 percent received a recommendation from their physician to quit.

Patients who report continued tobacco dependence are given a tailored feedback report describing their tobacco usage and the potential risks. Patients are also given referrals to local and online resources to help them quit. Polaris researchers are contacting these patients to determine how many acted on the referrals and/or quit. Prior Polaris research has shown that providing this type of information increases the number of patients who seek help for their addiction.

Polaris Oncology supports health care professionals by screening and monitoring for depression, anxiety and other mental health symptomology; risky drinking and smoking; cancer-related physical symptoms and side effects; and other areas of psychosocial distress. The system helps cancer centers meet the new 2012 Commission on Cancer accreditation requirements for evaluating all patients for psychosocial distress.

For more information on the current clinical trial or on the Polaris Oncology Distress Management System, send an e-mail to moreinfo@polarishealth.com or visit http://www.polarishealth.com/oncology. Follow Polaris on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/polarishealthdirections.

The project described was supported by Award Number 5R42MH78432-4 from the National Institute for Mental Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute for Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health.

About Polaris Health Directions

At Polaris, we recognize that organizations cannot manage what they do not measure. Many behavioral health care providers and payers may not be collecting and analyzing enough of the right data to answer basic questions about the cost-effectiveness of the care they offer. Polaris's advanced technology and science driven assessment systems are designed to capture the clinical data essential to quality improvement and enhanced organizational management. Polaris solutions provide advanced analytics to help you improve and demonstrate to your customers the value of your care. With a focus on prediction, Polaris solutions do more than describe clinical change. Our systems also indicate if treatment is likely to have a positive result. Helping you make better decisions in the present by anticipating the future will be the difference in reducing your costs while improving patient care.
Polaris Health Directions
Dr. Grant Grissom