Dental students' attitudes toward smoking cessation guidelines

J K Yip, J L Hay, J S Ostroff, R K Stewart, G D Cruz
Journal of Dental Education 2000, 64 (9): 641-50
Dentists can be effective in helping their patients achieve smoking cessation. To plan a didactic program, we explored the smoking cessation attitudes and practices of dental students and identified barriers to service provision in the dental setting. We assessed 244 fourth-year dental students at New York University College of Dentistry through a self-report survey. The instrument included a twenty-nine-item measure assessing attitudes towards tobacco-use counseling and adherence to National Cancer Institute tobacco cessation guidelines. The survey also assessed demographics, tobacco use history, and level of preparation to provide services. Generally, students endorsed tobacco prevention practices, but perceived barriers to service provision. Students provided counseling inconsistently, with 69 percent asking about smoking, 58 percent advising cessation, 24 percent offering assistance, and 22 percent providing followup on a routine basis. Those who provided more counseling were more likely to have undergone formal training in smoking cessation, did not feel time was a barrier to counseling, and had more favorable beliefs about dentists' role in promoting smoking cessation. Study findings indicate great receptivity among students as well as a critical need and opportunity to include comprehensive cessation counseling training in the dental curriculum.

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