Attitudes of Italian dental and dental hygiene students toward tobacco-use cessation

G Pizzo, M E Licata, M R Piscopo, M A Coniglio, S Pignato, J M Davis
European Journal of Dental Education: Official Journal of the Association for Dental Education in Europe 2010, 14 (1): 17-25

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the smoking habits of Italian dental and dental hygiene students and to assess their knowledge on the health effects of cigarette smoking and their attitudes toward tobacco-use cessation (TUC) in dental practice.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data was collected from 220 students attending the Dental and Dental Hygiene Schools (DS and DHS, respectively) at the University of Palermo (Italy).

RESULTS: The percentage of smokers amongst DS and DHS students was similar (32.78% vs. 32.5%) with 67.77% of DS students and 77.5% of DHS agreeing that the damages to health caused by smoking were covered in their didactic course work. A high percentage of DS (63.33%) and DHS (67.5%) students reported the relationship between smoking and a number of associated health conditions. Both DS and DHS students showed poor knowledge of TUC interventions. Both DS and DHS students reported to be conscious of their own role as a counsellor, with DHS students feeling more comfortable in approaching counselling in clinical practice. Although DS and DHS students reported a positive attitude toward TUC interventions, almost half of the students had some concerns about the effectiveness of smoking cessation activities.

DISCUSSION: The introduction of a comprehensive tobacco education curriculum in DS and DHS programs could further improve students' perceptions and attitudes and provide knowledge and clinical experience which would lead to the incorporation of TUC into subsequent professional practice.

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