Physicians' advice to quit smoking. The glass remains half empty
At the time of publication, Barry Saver was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
BACKGROUND: We explored the relationships between advice from a physician to quit smoking and an array of respondents' characteristics, including sociodemographic factors, health status, health insurance status, physician continuity, and intensity of smoking.
METHODS: We examined data from the nationally representative 1996-1997 Community Tracking Study Household Survey. We used multivariate logistic regression to model receipt of cessation advice in a sample of 8229 smokers aged 18 years and older who made at least one visit to a physician in the past year.
RESULTS: Less than 50% of the subjects reported receiving cessation advice. Advice was less likely for patients who were younger, men, African American, uninsured, healthier, lower health care services users, or lighter smokers, and more likely for those with military health insurance, who attended hospital outpatient clinics, or who belonged to health maintenance organizations.
CONCLUSIONS: Physicians continue to miss opportunities to provide smoking cessation advice, a potentially lifesaving intervention. Given the adverse health consequences of tobacco use and the demonstrated benefit of advice to quit, physicians need to improve their cessation counseling efforts.