Researchers at Kansas University Medical Center have secured a $2 million grant to study new ways to help people quit smoking.
The four-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will test whether Internet-based video conferencing is effective at getting patients to quit smoking, said Kimber Richter, associate professor of preventive medicine and public health.
The video conferencing will be conducted at doctors' offices in mainly rural areas, Richter said, and will be tested against the traditional method of telephone counseling.
"We think that the Web cam will help counselors and patients build a better rapport," she said. "We think it is just a better kind of partnership for quitting smoking."
Richter said researchers anticipate other benefits to videoconferencing, too.
Occasionally, counselors will report that they thought that patients who used the existing telephone service were smoking while on the phone.
With the face-to-face contact, that becomes a non-issue, Richter said.
"They can't smoke in the doctor's office," she said.
The researchers will partner with KU's Center for TeleMedicine and TeleHealth to provide the video links to the various doctors' offices.
Patients will be referred by their doctors for participation in the new study, Richter said.
"It'll be one more way to help people quit smoking," she said. "Some people may not like the idea of telephone counseling."
Richter said that the Web cameras could serve as a fall-back option for those who have tried and failed to quit by using other options.