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Am J Prev Med. 2006 Sep;31(3):233-9. Epub 2006 Jul 24.

Smoking cessation treatment by primary care physicians: An update and call for training.

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Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.



Public health and government organizations have invested considerably to increase physician adherence to smoking-cessation practice guidelines.


A random sample of 2000 U.S. primary care physicians was ascertained from the American Medical Association (AMA) in 2002. Respondents (n = 1120, 62.3%) provided self-reported data about individual and practice characteristics and smoking-cessation practices. Data were analyzed in 2005.


Most primary care physicians (75%) advised cessation, 64% recommended nicotine patches, 67% recommended bupropion, 32% recommended nicotine gum, 10% referred to cessation experts, and 26% referred to cessation programs "often or always." Advising cessation was related to being older, having a faculty appointment, having trained staff for smoking counseling, and having confidence to counsel patients about smoking. Physicians who were internists, younger, and those with greater confidence to counsel patients about smoking recommended nicotine replacement more often. Prescribing bupropion was less common among older physicians, in the Northeast, with trained staff available for counseling, and with a greater proportion of minority or Medicaid patients. Prescribing bupropion was more common among AMA-member physicians and physicians with greater confidence to counsel patients about smoking. Providing a referral to an outside expert or program was more common among female physicians, and physicians in the Northeast or West, with larger clinical practices, and with trained staff for cessation counseling.


Current physician self-reported practices for smoking cessation suggest opportunity for improvement. Targeted efforts to educate and support subsets of primary care physicians may improve physician adherence and smoking outcomes.

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