OBJECTIVE To describe the research conducted to structure and develop a statewide tobacco training and certification programme for tobacco treatment specialists (TTSs) in Massachusetts.
DESIGN Qualitative research strategies were used to obtain information on certification development and opinions regarding TTS training and certification from key informants. A role definition and validation study was then conducted to determine the core competencies for TTSs. A comprehensive training programme was developed, piloted, and finalised, and a certification programme was initiated.
PARTICIPANTS Key informants included: individuals involved in the development of their professional certification programmes; tobacco treatment providers from across Massachusetts; and national tobacco treatment experts.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Participants' opinions about the need for and structure of a training and certification programme for individuals specialising in the provision of moderate to intensive tobacco treatment; delineation of core competencies for TTSs, using the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) clinical practice guideline as a foundation for the development of evidence based standards of practice for the treatment of nicotine dependence.
RESULTS The data support a comprehensive training and certification programme for TTSs in Massachusetts. Main concerns include the cost of obtaining certification, the potential to exclude uncertified healthcare professionals from delivering basic tobacco treatment, and the role of the TTS in the healthcare delivery system and the community. The training programme developed for Massachusetts was piloted, and the structure of a statewide training and certification programme for TTSs was finalised.
CONCLUSIONS The research provides support for the need and acceptance of a training and certification programme for TTSs in Massachusetts, and presents the challenges to be addressed. We demonstrated the feasibility of developing and implementing an evidence based training programme, and of initiating a statewide certification programme in Massachusetts. This work will add to a national dialogue on the development of a training and certification programme for tobacco treatment providers and encourage further research into the potential impact of statewide and national certification.
- tobacco treatment
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