FRIDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- Many U.S. health
professionals fail to offer programs, plans or prescriptions to
help patients quit smoking, finds a new study.
Researchers surveyed different types of health care providers --
primary care and emergency physicians, psychiatrists, nurses,
dentists, dental hygienists and pharmacists -- and found that
reasons for failure to follow national guidelines for helping
patients kick the habit include the providers' own tobacco use,
perceptions of patient attitudes about quitting, a lack of training
in smoking-cessation interventions, and a feeling that it wasn't
part of their professional responsibilities.
The University of California, Davis research team found that
nearly 99 percent of survey respondents said they ask patients if
they smoke and nearly as many warn patients about smoking risks.
But far fewer health care professionals actually assist patients in
getting the help they need to quit smoking.
For example, 87 percent of registered nurses said they ask if a
patient smokes and 65 percent said they advise smokers to quit. But
only 25 percent said they help smokers set a quit date. The low
rate of assistance was similar among all health professionals,
except primary care doctors, who set a quit date for patients 60
percent of the time, according to the report.
Being asked about smoking by more than one type of health care
provider improves the likelihood that a patient will quit, the
study authors noted.
"We know that [health care] provider advice is one of the simplest and most important things to help a smoker to try to quit and stay quit. Providers are not doing enough. It should be a priority for all health professionals, not just primary care physicians," study author Dr. Elisa K. Tong, of the division of general medicine, said in a UC Davis news release.
The study is published online in advance of print publication in
the July issue of the journal
Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
The American Cancer Society offers a
guide to quitting smoking.