CHEST 2008: Doctors Unaware of Tobacco-Related Issues

Survey shows lack of knowledge about smoking cessation process, nicotine-drug interactions
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Most health care providers have a poor understanding of the smoking cessation process, including how it affects medication requirements, according to research presented this week at CHEST 2008, the 74th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, in Philadelphia.

Virginia Reichert, formerly of the North Shore-LIJ Health System Center for Tobacco Control in Great Neck, N.Y., and colleagues surveyed 600 health care providers, 322 of whom were prescribers (physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants) and 278 of whom were nonprescribers (pharmacists, registered nurses, social workers, counselors, respiratory therapists and students).

The researchers found that the vast majority of prescribers and nonprescribers (87 percent and 93 percent, respectively) had received less than five hours of tobacco-dependence training. They also found that few prescribers and nonprescribers (6 percent and 5 percent, respectively) knew the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality treatment guidelines for tobacco dependence or could correctly identify the signs of nicotine withdrawal (1 percent and 3 percent, respectively) and that most prescribers and nonprescribers incorrectly answered questions about how smoking cessation affects requirements for drugs such as insulin and Warfarin.

"Health care provider implementation and knowledge of the guidelines for treating tobacco dependence needs improvement," the authors conclude. "Awareness of the implications of abrupt cessation in the hospitalized patient will result in improved patient safety goals, such as decreased adverse drug reactions and health outcomes."

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