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Women Health. 2001;34(4):15-29.

Non-primary care physicians and smoking cessation counseling: Women Physicians' Health Study.

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Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.



The Women Physicians' Health Study (WPHS) offers a unique opportunity to examine the counseling and screening practices of women physicians in various specialties. In this study we describe the prevalence of self-reported counseling on smoking cessation among non-primary care women physicians and examine the association between their demographic, professional, and personal characteristics and such counseling on smoking cessation.


Conducted in 1993-1994, WPHS is a nationally representative cross-sectional mailed survey of U.S. women physicians with 4,501 respondents representing all major specialties. Physicians in 9 specialty areas were grouped in 6 categories: (1) anesthesiology; (2) general surgery and surgical subspecialties; (3) emergency medicine; (4) medical subspecialties; (5) psychiatry; and (6) other. Frequent counseling was defined as having counseled patients who were known smokers at every visit or at least once a year.


Overall, 45% of the physicians frequently counseled smokers to quit. Medical subspecialists (80%) were most likely and psychiatrists (29%) least likely to counsel frequently. Specialty, perceived relevance of counseling to the physician's practice, and self-confidence in counseling about smoking cessation were associated with frequent counseling.


Cessation counseling by non-primary care physicians can reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. Increasing perceived relevance and self-confidence among this group of physicians, combined with implementation of system changes and the creation of physician accountability can facilitate the provision of such counseling.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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