IPCRG equips 32 Romanian primary care doctors with tobacco dependence treatment skills

The International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG) is working with four countries in Eastern Europe – Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, FYR Macedonia and Romania – to increase capacity for treating tobacco dependence in primary care. The project will equip 1,000 primary healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to treat tobacco dependence confidently in their community, using a cascading “Teach the Teachers” model, developed and used successfully by IPCRG. Participants are recruited by IPCRG’s member organisations in each of the four countries that are established providers of continuing medical education (CME).

Taking it to the next level in Romania

32 Romanian primary care doctors came together to learn about tobacco dependence and the potential of very brief advice (VBA) and pharmacotherapy for treatment.  The workshop took place in October this year in Bucharest and was organised by RespiRo (the Romanian primary care respiratory group) who are leading the work in Romania. The training was led by a team of four from RespiRo who had attended an IPCRG international teachers workshop (Level 1) in Sofia earlier in 2017. They were supported by Darush Attar-Zadeh, a UK-based community pharmacist and specialist in treating tobacco dependence who is a member of IPCRG Expert faculty.

RespiRo Faculty – Catalina Panaitescu, Cristina Isar, Adriana Antohe and Carmen Busneag

The 32 doctors are also teachers in primary care and will take their learning into their own practice as physicians, but also cascade the training to the next level for colleagues working in primary care within different regions in Romania. The primary objective of the training is to develop their capacity to teach VBA plus medication options in their localities (Level 2). The next level of training (Level 3) will include up to 250 primary health care workers and will take place in 2018. We estimate this has the potential to impact a population of 43,000 patients.

There are plans for further evaluation of the impact of the training, but early reports suggest that participants were “involved, passionate and determined to go to the next level” and that one participant stopped smoking on the first day of the workshop! Participants were encouraged to understand the importance of listening skills, asking questions, summarising and shared decision making with their patients. “It was rewarding to see a shift in mind set for colleagues,” said Darush Attar-Zadeh. This has already prompted work to develop accessible stop smoking clinics for patients.