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Primary care-based smoking cessation treatment and subsequent healthcare service utilisation: a matched cohort study of smokers using linked administrative healthcare data

Baliunas D, Selby P, de Oliveira C, Kurdyak P, Rosella L, Zawertailo L, Fu L, Sutradhar R. Tob Control. 2021; Jun 3 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2021-056522


Background — No research has assessed the individual-level impact of smoking cessation treatment delivered within a general primary care patient population on multiple forms of subsequent healthcare service use.

Objective — We aimed to compare the rate of outpatient visits, emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalisations during a 5-year follow-up period among smokers who had and had not accessed a smoking cessation treatment programme.

Methods — The study was a retrospective matched cohort study using linked demographic and administrative healthcare databases in Ontario, Canada. 9951 patients who accessed smoking cessation services between July 2011 and December 2012 were matched to a smoker who did not access services, obtained from the Canadian Community Health Survey, using a combination of hard matching and propensity score matching. Outcomes were rates of healthcare service use from index date (programme enrolment or survey response) to March 2017.

Results — After controlling for potential confounders, patients in the overall treatment cohort had modestly greater rates of the outcomes: outpatient visits (rate ratio (RR) 1.10, 95% CI: 1.06 to 1.14), ED visits (RR 1.08, 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.13) and hospitalisations (RR 1.09, 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.18). Effect modification of the association between smoking cessation treatment and healthcare service use by prevalent comorbidity was found for outpatient visits (p=0.006), and hospitalisations (p=0.050), but not ED visits.

Conclusions — Patients who enrolled in smoking cessation treatment offered through primary care clinics in Ontario displayed a modest but significantly greater rate of outpatient visits, ED visits and hospitalisations over a 5-year follow-up period.

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