New research reveals that providing direct assistance to patients trying to quit smoking, such as talking about how to quit or recommending aids, can significantly improve a patient’s success.

Does participation in the annual lung cancer screening currently recommended for people with high-risk smoking histories encourage those who are still smoking to quit? A new study from a Massachusetts General Hospital research team (MGH) finds that the answer may depend on the level of support given by patients’ primary care providers.

In the report receiving online publication in JAMA Internal Medicine, the team finds that, while providers’ asking such patients about smoking did not increase their likelihood of quitting, providing more direct assistance — such as talking about how to quit smoking, recommending or prescribing nicotine replacement or pharmaceutical aids, and following up on recommendations — significantly improved patients’ success in becoming smoke-free.