Taking STEPSSS to stop smoking
Getting patients to stop smoking is one of the most relevant and challenging aspects of preventive medicine. Rather than just telling patients to quit, I write out a prescription – using the mnemonic STEPSSS – that increases the probability of success.
S – Set a quit date (so the patient will be psychologically, emotionally, and physically prepared).
T – Take medication as directed (evidence overwhelmingly indicates most who quit smoking successfully require pharmacological therapy at some point).
E – Email your physician on a regular basis with your progress (I have found that patients who are continually held accountable have greater success as they try to improve their health and please their doctor).
P – Pride (I encourage patients to feel pride in any level of improvement, even smoking one fewer cigarette per month).
S – Set goals and a vision for the future (their investment in smoking cessation today will pay dividends in the form of a healthier, longer life).
S – Share stories of success with family (I also ask that they allow me to share their challenges and successes with other patients to demonstrate that smoking cessation is achievable and sustainable).
S – Success (I award certificates or ribbons to patients who meet their quit date to continue motivating them and avoid relapses).
Pinch the pain away
Having a patient come into the office complaining of a headache is common. I have a technique that works with about a third of these patients: your thumb and index squeeze the web between the patient's thumb and index finger. The pressure should be steady. This is an acupuncture point and, for some patients, the results can be dramatic with the headache going away immediately.