Dentists' familiarity with tobacco cessation programs in dental settings in Iran

Arezoo Ebn Ahmady, Mohammad H Khoshnevisan, Nastaran Heidari, Harry Alan Lando
Journal of Public Health Dentistry 2011, 71 (4): 271-7

OBJECTIVES: The current study assessed Iranian dentists' practice, knowledge, perceived barriers, and attitudes toward helping patients to quit. We hypothesized that Iranian dentists would have limited knowledge and awareness of tobacco cessation methods or of their important role in encouraging patients to quit. We expected the combination of quantitative and qualitative research to yield important insights regarding effective methods of engaging Iranian dentists in tobacco intervention.

METHODS: From a list of registered dentists following an initial screening, we randomly selected a total of 1,000 dental practices in 10 randomly selected provinces. Following an initial letter describing the study, we mailed a questionnaire. For the qualitative part of the study, we used a convenience purposeful sampling of 16 dentists.

RESULTS: Despite repeated contacts, only 35 percent of those contacted returned completed surveys. Key findings not only included generally positive attitudes toward tobacco cessation programs, but also identification of major barriers including concerns about patient resistance, lack of supportive organization, and opportunities for training. Dentists were far more likely to ask patients about smoking than to provide actual cessation support. Female dentists were more likely to ask patients. The qualitative interviews shed further light on barriers to intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: Interpretation of the findings is limited by the relatively low response rate. However, despite identified barriers to intervention, we are encouraged by dentists' overall knowledge and interest in tobacco cessation services. We plan to use the current findings to inform development of continuing education programs and incorporation of tobacco cessation counseling into dental school curricula in Iran.

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