North Carolina AHEC Program
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National AHEC Organization Awards Grants For Tobacco Cessation

The National AHEC Organization (NAO) has awarded grants to the Charlotte, Eastern, and Southern Regional AHECs as part of the national Cease Smoking 2Day initiative to address tobacco cessation education.

Charlotte AHEC received a $7,500 grant to create a series of online modules to educate health care professionals about smoking cessation; CME credits and CEUs will be awarded upon successful completion. Donnie Nuzum, PharmD, will cover the following objectives in the modules:

Eastern AHEC (EAHEC) received a $7,348 grant to provide a regional educational event on tobacco cessation. Due to a reduction in NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund monies focused on tobacco cessation education, EAHEC saw the NAO grant as an opportunity to fill that gap to continue regional education of multidisciplinary groups on evidence-based clinical strategies for tobacco cessation. “Connecting with Patients for Behavior Change & Tobacco Cessation” will take place on December 6, 2011, in Greenville. The event will incorporate content on motivational interviewing and statewide/national/community resources that practitioners can utilize when counseling patients on tobacco cessation. There is no charge for this workshop, and details and registration information can be found here. In a related statewide AHEC effort, Eastern AHEC is taking a lead role in a facilitator training series called Freedom From Smoking that is being offered in Rocky Mount, Asheville, Greensboro, Cary, Greenville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Wilmington.

The North Carolina Evidence Based Practices (NC EBP) Center at Southern Regional AHEC received a $15,000 grant to expand the Breathe Easy, Live Well program. The NC EBP Center operates as part of the Regional Education and Information Services division, under the Mental Health Continuing Education Department of Southern Regional AHEC. The grant also provides funding for experts to review and update the Breathe Easy, Live Well curriculum. For the past two years, the NC EBP Center successfully trained leaders in mental health settings to help substance abuse clients quit smoking and increase healthy living habits. The program was originally funded under the NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund. Breathe Easy, Live Well is designed to increase healthy living in each member who attends the group. Its primary focus is tobacco cessation, but also includes topics such as: healthy food choices, staying active, healthy body awareness, managing stress, the importance of drinking water and how to build a support network.

The target audience for the training will be mental health professionals interested in implementing the Breath Easy, Live Well curriculum in their work settings. It is comprised of weekly modules, with psycho-educational material, followed by two group activities related to that week’s topic. The manual also includes stretching exercises, deep breathing exercises, and a Ready-to-Quit-Kit, providing more detailed information about tobacco cessation. In its initial development stage, this program was successful in reducing tobacco use in 71 percent of tobacco users who attended the group. Because it is an extraordinarily difficult addiction to break, and because group members have the opportunity to choose the health behavior goal that appeals most to them, it is expected that it will, again, see changes in 70-85 percent of members who attend the group.

The overall goal of this project is increased dissemination and utilization of the Breathe Easy, Live Well curriculum for tobacco cessation in a variety of mental health settings across the state.