The Department has eight PhD/MD-level researchers that focus their research and service efforts on tobacco control. Research includes randomized control trials to discover novel treatments for tobacco dependence; national, regional, and local epidemiological studies on the distribution and determinants of smoking; health services research conducted through surveys and direct observation of clinical practice, and qualitative investigations.
In general, our efforts focus on understanding and treating tobacco dependence among the medically underserved. Especially innovative programs include a trial of a culturally-targeted smoking cessation intervention for Native Americans, investigations into gene-medication interactions related to smoking cessation among African Americans, and Spanish-language computer kiosks to inform Latinos of medication and counseling resources in area safety net clinics. KanQuit, a ground-breaking trial of long-term tobacco treatment counseling in rural primary care clinics, is wrapping up and will answer a number of important research questions on long-term treatment engagement and optimal ways to deliver tobacco treatment to rural areas.
Faculty reach out at the local, state, and national levels to enhance tobacco control research and practice. The Department is home to UKanQuit, a tobacco treatment service for the University of Kansas Hospital that provides bedside counseling to hospital inpatients that smoke. Faculty have been instrumental in bringing metropolitan organizations that serve Latinos together to develop strategies for addressing tobacco. Others are involved in advocacy for clean indoor air laws. Faculty have testified at the local and state arenas to advance tobacco control ordinances and bills. At the national level, many serve as peer reviewers for tobacco research grants and manuscripts.
The Department maintains strong linkages to researchers and practitioners in Kansas and across the country. Faculty belong to and actively support the efforts of the Kansas Public Health Association and Tobacco Free Kansas, Inc. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment employs many of our Master of Public Health students and engages us in tobacco control workforce training and state grant reviews. Faculty are members of the international Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and present research findings there regularly. Others are members of the Association for Treating Tobacco Use Disorders and serve on the boards of national organizations to address tobacco and other drug use disorders.
Education plays a major role in our tobacco control efforts. One of the highlights of educational efforts of the tobacco group is an innovative on-line graduate course entitled, "Tobacco and Public Health." Faculty also present on issues related to tobacco epidemiology and tobacco treatment for Phase I medical students. In the fourth year, students are again encouraged to address systems-based approaches to tobacco control in the "Health of the Public" course. In addition to participation in formal coursework, faculty participate in tobacco control educational efforts in the local community, regionally, and nationally.
Our future goals include branching into innovative treatment delivery systems such as telemedicine for treating smoking in rural areas, computer kiosks for supporting cessation in clinics, developing a website about tobacco and lung health, collecting data from on-line smoking cessation for Native people, and disseminating tobacco treatment systems to rural hospitals.