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Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Jul;9(7):2550-61. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9072550. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

Smoking health professional student: an attitudinal challenge for health promotion?

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Department of Public Health, Malta Medical School, Mater Dei Hospital, Birkirkara Bypass, Msida MSD 2090, Malta.


Tobacco is a major preventable cause of premature morbidity and mortality. Health professionals are uniquely positioned to provide targeted interventions and should be empowered to provide cessation counselling that influence patient smoking. A cross-sectional national survey was administered to all third year students in four disciplines at the University of Malta. The Global Health Professional Student Survey (GHPSS) questionnaire was distributed to collect standardised demographic, smoking prevalence, behavioural, and attitudinal data. 81.9% completed the questionnaire (n = 173/211). A positive significant association between tobacco smoke exposure at home and current smoking status was identified. Non-smokers regarded anti-tobacco policies more favourably than smokers, being more likely to agree with banning of tobacco sales to adolescents (OR 3.6; 95% CI: 2.5-5.3; p ≤ 0.001); and with a smoking ban in all public places (OR 8.9; 95% CI: 6.1-13.1; p ≤ 0.001). Non-smokers favoured a role for health professionals in promoting smoking cessation (OR 5.1; 95% CI: 3.1-8.5; p ≤ 0.001). Knowledge of antidepressants as tools for smoking cessation was also associated with a perceived role for skilled health professionals in cessation counselling (OR 4.9; 95% CI: 1.8-13.3; p = 0.002). Smoking negatively influences beliefs and attitudes of students toward tobacco control. There is a need to adopt a standard undergraduate curriculum containing comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation training to improve their effectiveness as role models.


health profession; prevalence; smoking; tobacco

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