Macomb physician helps patients quit smoking using a patient-centered approach

Dr. Habicht and Mike Stiffler, medical assistant

As health care providers continue to focus on the overall health and wellness of their patients with increasing emphasis, several risk factors are being routinely addressed during office visits. Dr. John Habicht of Macomb Township frequently addresses the importance of smoking cessation with his patients and uses a combination of approaches to help them kick the habit for good.

When asked about how he initially starts a conversation about smoking cessation with a patient, Dr. Habicht says he first explains the wide range of chronic health conditions that are frequently related to or made worse by smoking.

“If the patient has any of these conditions, I emphasize how quitting smoking may improve their medical condition as well as their overall health,” says Dr. Habicht. He describes his approach as patient-centered because he uses a combination of counseling and patient goal-setting which gives the patient more control.

Such a personalized and positive approach may resonate better with Dr. Habicht’s patients who smoke, of which “around 50 percent” are initially receptive to the idea of quitting.

If a patient is receptive to the idea of quitting, Dr. Habicht and the patient take action together. “The first step is the patient setting a quit date on their own without medication, followed by a referral to the Quit the Nic program,” says Dr. Habicht. Then, the doctor follows up with patients one month after the quit date, then again two to three months later.

 In the event that a patient has a difficult time quitting, Dr. Habicht and the patient discuss medication options. “Medication seems to be more effective to reduce withdrawal symptoms than the patient quitting on their own,” he says.

Dr. Habicht estimates that around 75 percent of his patients who are interested in kicking the habit succeed in doing so. However, he also acknowledges that some patients, particularly those with polysubstance abuse issues, have more difficulty quitting. When a patient attempts to quit and fails, Dr. Habicht explains the risks of continuing to smoke to the patient, in addition to possibly recommending medication or alternative therapies.

Quitting smoking is a major lifestyle change for many patients, and a patient must have a real desire to quit, Dr. Habicht explains. “In order to be successful, patients need to be committed to the process.”