Smoking cessation counseling in dentistry: attitudes of Nigerian dentists and dental students

Omolara G Uti, Oyinkansola O Sofola
Journal of Dental Education 2011, 75 (3): 406-12
The study was aimed at assessing the awareness, attitude, practices, willingness, and perceived barriers of dental students and dentists in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria, in relation to smoking cessation in the dental care setting. An anonymous self-administered questionnaire that contained questions relating to attitudes, views, and perceived barriers to smoking cessation activities in the dental clinic was hand-delivered to all dentists and clinical dental students in 2007. One hundred and thirty-six respondents took part in the study (response rate=81.9 percent). Although 95 percent of the respondents believed that smoking affects the dental management of the patient, only 65 percent always ask their patients about their smoking habits, and only 30 percent have heard about smoking cessation programs. A significantly higher proportion of students always ask patients about their smoking habits compared with dentists (p=0.0017). Also, a significantly higher proportion of dentists (97 percent) advised their patients against tobacco use compared with 77 percent of students (p=0.0000). Only 2 percent and 3 percent agreed that it is their professional responsibility to educate or encourage patients to quit smoking, respectively. Also, 98 percent strongly disagreed that it is within the scope of dental practice to ask about tobacco use, and 86 percent disagreed that tobacco counseling can be effective in helping patients quit tobacco use. Perceived barriers reported were lack of time (88 percent), lack of necessary materials (81 percent), and lack of knowledge of smoking cessation (74 percent). However, 81 percent of the respondents said they are willing to undergo training in tobacco use cessation. Since most of the dentists and dental students had poor attitudes and negative perceptions of smoking cessation activities, possibly due to lack of training and resources to carry it out in the clinics, there is need to include smoking cessation training in the dental curriculum in Nigeria.

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