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Cancer. 2000 Aug 15;89(4):881-9.

Tobacco interventions by oncology nurses in clinical practice: report from a national survey.

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School of Nursing, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-6918, USA.



Tobacco use is an important risk factor in cancer, cancer recurrence, and increased treatment morbidity, but limited information is available about interventions for tobacco cessation used in oncology clinical practice. In 1996, the Agency for Health Care Policy Research (AHCPR) published the first evidence-based smoking cessation guideline for use by health professionals. Using the AHCPR guideline as a framework, the authors describe the frequency of tobacco interventions provided by oncology nurses.


A questionnaire was mailed to 4000 randomly selected members of the Oncology Nursing Society in winter of 1998. Of those who were mailed questionnaires, 1508 respondents (38%) were available for analysis.


The typical respondent was female, 44 years of age, and had practiced as an oncology nurse for 12 years. Seven percent were current smokers, and 30% were former smokers. Most (86%) encountered smokers on a weekly basis, but only 10% had heard of the AHCPR guideline. The majority (64%) assessed and documented tobacco status, 38% assessed readiness to quit. Few went on to provide interventions: 36% provided counseling, 32% provided cessation advice, 24% recommended nicotine replacement, and 16% taught skills to prevent relapse. Common barriers included perceived lack of patient motivation (74%) and the nurse's lack of time (52%) and skills (53%). The majority stated that they wanted to help patients stop smoking (88%) but needed additional training (92%).


Documentation of tobacco status alone is not adequate in assisting patients with smoking cessation. Greater efforts are needed to educate oncology nurses about the range of tobacco interventions available and to facilitate their use in clinical settings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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