Physicians’ tobacco-related interactions with adolescents, including screening and advice, may help to modify teen attitudes, smoking intentions, and quitting behaviors, according to a study published online May 16 in Pediatrics.
Ashley M. Hum, from the University of Memphis in Tennessee, and colleagues investigated the association between physician communication and adolescents’ attitudes to smoking. The study included a cohort of 5,145 adolescents from an urban mid-South school system. Participants reported their attitudes toward smoking, knowledge about smoking, intentions to smoke, tobacco use, and quitting behaviors. Adolescents recalled physicians’ interventions as screening for tobacco, advice not to smoke, or both screening and advice.
The investigators found that physician advice and a combination of screening and advice was correlated with healthier attitudes toward smoking. Physician screening and advice was correlated with improved knowledge about tobacco-related damage. For current smokers, advice was correlated with a decreased intention to smoke in five years time, and these teens were more likely to plan to stop smoking in six months. The teenagers who were screened reported significantly more attempts to quit than those who were not screened or advised.
“Physician’s tobacco-related interactions with adolescents seemed to positively impact their attitudes, knowledge, intentions to smoke, and quitting behaviors,” the authors write.