Most doctors and smokers agree that quitting smoking is the best way to
Smokers say they get advice on how to quit smoking half as often as
doctors say they provide it
LONDON, March 26 /CNW/ - There is a significant communication gap between
doctors and their smoking patients, according to combined results from two of
the largest international surveys of physicians' and smokers' attitudes to
smoking and smoking cessation. Results showed that there are significant
differences between doctors' smoking cessation practices and smokers'
Both doctors and smokers acknowledge the harmful effects of smoking and
the importance of quitting. A majority of physicians (69%) believe that
smoking is the most harmful activity to affect their patients' long-term
health compared with lack of exercise (42%), unhealthy diet (36%), drinking
alcohol (30%) and over-eating/obesity (23%). Similarly, most smokers (75%) are
concerned about the health risks of smoking and the majority (81%) agree that
quitting smoking is the best way to improve their health.
Advice from a healthcare professional, even when brief, is known to
increase the success of smokers wanting to quit(1). Despite this, the surveys
highlight a vast difference in the number of doctors (41%) who say they
discuss smoking with their patients at every visit, versus the number of
smokers (9%) who say they discuss smoking with their doctor at every visit.
Although 66% of doctors said they explain various methods of quitting to
their patients, only half of this total of smokers who have talked to a doctor
about smoking (33%) said they received this advice. In addition, although 47%
of doctors stated that they develop quit plans for their patients to assist
them, only a quarter of this total of smokers who have talked to a doctor
about smoking (13%) said this was the case.
"These surveys provide valuable insight into the need for improved
communication between smokers and doctors," said Hayden McRobbie, Clinical
Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, New Zealand. "Although smokers
know that quitting smoking is the single biggest step to improving their
health, these surveys show that patients do not often believe they are
receiving the support and advice from their doctor that is vital to
successfully quit smoking."
Smoking is a chronic, relapsing medical condition that involves a
physical and psychological addiction to nicotine. According to the World
Health Organization, less than 5% who attempt to quit unaided remain smoke
free at one year.(2) Even with assistance, quitting smoking is still
difficult. Indeed, 56% of smokers who have tried to quit said that it is the
hardest thing they have ever tried to do.
Both physicians and smokers believe that it is the smoker who is most
responsible for quitting and that individual willpower is vitally important to
a successful quit attempt. Ninety-two percent of physicians think quitting is
primarily up to individual willpower and 91% of smokers agreed. Yet willpower
alone is usually an ineffective method to quit, as a large percentage of
doctors (who smoke and tried to quit) (58%) and smokers (81%) have failed to
quit smoking using willpower alone.
The surveys also highlighted that doctors need better support, resources
and improved training to engage patients. Data from the surveys showed that
doctors want effective smoking cessation medications (81%) and additional
coaching on motivating their patients to quit (78%). Data from the surveys
also showed 51% of doctors said they do not have time to help their patients
quit, 46% said they had higher priorities and 38% said they were not
appropriately trained to help patients quit smoking.
"Although governments are taking steps to curb smoking by initiating
smoke-free policies, there needs to be more support from doctors for smokers
trying to quit," said Serena Tonstad Department of Preventive Cardiology,
Ulleval University Hospital, Norway "We need to call upon doctors around the
world to give appropriate advice and support to patients wanting to quit
About The Surveys:
STOP (Smoking: The Opinion of Physicians) survey, sponsored by Pfizer and
conducted by Harris Interactive Inc, is one of the largest global surveys
examining the attitudes towards smoking and smoking cessation of general
practitioners and family physicians - including both smokers and non-smokers.
2,836 physicians from 16 countries were interviewed for the study. Physicians
in Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands,
Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and US participated in the
survey. The survey fieldwork was conducted between May and June 2006. STOP was
funded by Pfizer.
SUPPORT (Smoking: Understanding People's Perceptions, Opinions and
Reactions to Tobacco), sponsored by Pfizer and conducted by Harris
Interactive, is one of the largest global surveys conducted to investigate the
attitudes and behaviours of smokers towards smoking and smoking cessation.
3,760 adult smokers aged 25+ from 15 countries were interviewed for the study.
Smokers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland,
Portugal, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, UK and US participated in the
survey. The survey fieldwork was conducted between August and September 2006
and Dec and Jan 2007. SUPPORT was funded by Pfizer.
For the SUPPORT survey, in Europe, the figures of age, sex, education,
region, number of adults in the household, and number of phone lines in the
household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their
actual proportions in the population. In Japan age, sex, education, income,
martial status, region, and number of phone lines in the household were used.
In South Korea, age, sex, education, income, region, and number of phone lines
the household were used. In Canada age, sex, education, income, language,
region, race/ethnicity, and number of adults in the household, and number of
phone lines in the household were used. In Mexico, age, sex, education,
socioeconomic status, state, and number of phone lines the household were
used. In the U.S., age, sex, education, income, race/ethnicity, region, number
of adults in the household and number of phone lines the household were used .
With a pure probability sample of 3,760 for the SUPPORT survey, one could say
with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results would have a
sampling error of +/- 2 percentage points. Sampling error for data based on
sub-samples would be higher and would vary. However, that does not take other
sources of error into account.
About the Spokespeople
-- Hayden McRobbie, MD, ChB, Research Fellow at the Clinical Trials
Research Unit at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and a varenicline
clinical trial investigator.
-- Serena Tonstad, MD, PhD, Head Physician at the Department of
Preventive Cardiology, Ulleval University Hospital, Norway, and a varenicline
clinical trial investigator.
1. World Health Organization. New survey shows lack of training on
tobacco cessation techniques for health-profession students. 31 May 2005:
World No Tobacco Day. Available online at URL: http://www.who.int. Last
accessed February 20072. WHO European Strategy for Smoking Cessation Policy.
Available online at URL: http://www.euro.who.int/Document/E80056.pdf Last
accessed February 2007.
For further information:
For further information: Edelman for Pfizer Zoe Fleming, +44 7949