Choose to Change Research Project

Reducing Tobacco Use Disparities Among Adults in Safety Net Community Health Centers (The Choose to Change Study)

The Story

Tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer in the in the United States and around world. People who smoke typically die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Many people who smoke, especially those who are low income or who do not have health insurance, receive less information and help with quitting smoking. To address this problem, more research is needed on how to best provide stop-smoking treatment as part of routine health care in clinics serving low-income patients.

What We’re Doing

We are conducting a research study to test a new approach to reducing cigarette smoking among patients of Near North Health Services Corporation (NNHSC), a large safety net community health center in Chicago. Named “Choose to Change”, the goal of this research is to evaluate whether using the electronic health record (EHR) system to identify patients who smoke and reach out to them with information about treatment options helps them make a quit attempt. One part of Choose to Change involves sending patients a letter and text or voice messages designed to help motivate them to accept free stop smoking coaching and free nicotine replacement medication from the Illinois Tobacco Quitline. Patients are encouraged to choose their own stop smoking goal, which may include quitting completely or gradually cutting down as a first step to trying to quit. A second part of Choose to Change involves easily connecting patients to the Quitline and then providing feedback to NNHSC doctors to support follow-up care. We expect that this new approach to addressing smoking in safety net community health centers will increase use of quitline treatment and long-term quitting. We believe that increasing access to free and effective treatment by integrating safety net community health centers and state quitline services may be especially important for low income smokers who carry a much greater burden of tobacco-related disease.

Research Project #1 – Team & Community Partners

  • Brian Hitsman (NU)
  • Kenzie Cameron (NU)
  • Ronald Ackermann (NU)
  • Melissa Simon (NU)
  • Alicia Matthews (UIC)
  • Yamile Molina (UIC)
  • Christina Ciecierski (NEIU)
  • George Papandonatos (Brown University)
  • Timothy Long (Near North Health Service Corporation & Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services)
  • Fred Rachman (Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services)
  • Michael Mark & Cherylee Bridges (Illinois Tobacco Quitline)

Study Results

Study is underway. Please check back for study updates and results! Contact us to learn more or get involved.


The Illinois Tobacco Quitline is a free telephonic or phone resource for individuals wanting to quit tobacco or tobacco-related products.

The Quitline’s counselors — nurses, respiratory therapists, and tobacco-cessation specialists — all have at least 25 years of medical experience and attend accredited, renowned nicotine dependence training programs to become certified in tobacco-cessation therapies.

They also are qualified to offer guidance in lung health and disease-related comorbidities, in addition to tobacco cessation.

Because many are formers smokers, too, they know the challenges it takes to quit for good.

1-866-QUIT-YES (1-866-784-8937)
M – F, 7a – 9p CST
Sat & Sun, 9a – 5p