Prof Scott Sherman

Professor of Population Health, Medicine and Psychiatry

NYU Grossman School of Medicine


My work over the last two decades has focused on innovative ways to reach and deliver tobacco use cessation treatment within health care, particularly to populations with low rates of treatment. Initially, consistent with recommendations at that time, I focused on referring all smokers to a multi-disciplinary smoking cessation program. However, I found that approach, despite a higher individual rate of success, had limited impact because of low acceptance of the referral by smokers and poor attendance at the program. As a result, I shifted my studies and policy efforts from a specialty-clinic model (referral to a smoking cessation clinic) to a primary care-based model. I have studied different approaches to increase tobacco use cessation treatment in primary care, such as use of an on-call counselor and simple referral to a telephone care coordination program for smoking. I have also studied use of a similar clinic-based approach in mental health care.

More recently, I have been studying whether a population-based approach is even more successful at helping smokers to quit. We showed that by reaching out and recruiting from the entire population, proactive outreach in primary care led to a higher population-level quit rate in four medical centers, and we found the same approach worked equally well for smokers with mental health diagnoses. We now also testing whether an opt-out approach to smoking cessation is more effective in primary care and in mental health care.

I am currently Principal Investigator on nine large grants, with funding from National Institutes of Health, VA Health Services Research and Development Service and others. For the last 5 years, I have been increasingly studying patterns of use of alternative tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, hookah and midwakh (a tobacco pipe used frequently in parts of the Middle East). We are currently conducting studies looking at the process and impact of switching from combustible cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.


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