Awareness, practices, and barriers regarding smoking cessation treatment among physicians in Saudi Arabia

Hoda Jradi
Journal of Addictive Diseases 2017, 36 (1): 53-59
Smoking cessation counseling and therapy provided by physicians play an important role in helping smokers quit. Awareness and practices of the clinical practice guidelines for tobacco dependence (in particular the 5A's: Ask, Assist, Assess, Advise, and Arrange) among physicians and perceived barriers for their implementation is needed to improve care for individuals who smoke/use tobacco products in Saudi Arabia. A cross-sectional self-administered survey was conducted among 124 general and family practitioners in primary health care clinics belonging to 2 major medical centers in Riyadh city, Saudi Arabia. Descriptive statistics were reported for all survey variables. Logistic regression was used to examine the predictors of physicians' use of the 5A's for smoking cessation counseling and therapy. Among the 216 contacted physicians, 124 responded (57.4%). The majority (63.7%) were males, between the ages of 40 and 49 years (52.4%), practicing full-time (95.2%), and had not received smoking cessation training during medical school education or residency training (68.6%). Approximately 85.5% reported some experience with the guidelines (heard, read, or used). Asking (71.8%) and advising (87.9%) were the most implemented for smoking cessation, while assisting (15.3%) and arranging for follow-up (17.7%) were the least implemented. Most (96.0%) did not prescribe pharmacotherapy and 53.2% reported documenting the patient's smoking status. Reported barriers were mostly lack of time (72.6%) and lack of training (66.9%). Awareness of the guidelines, physician's smoking status, perceived competence in ability to provide smoking cessation counseling and therapy, reporting the ineffectiveness of smoking cessation therapy as a barrier, and the perceived benefit of reducing patient's physical symptoms were independently statistically significant predictors of the implementation of the 5A's for smoking cessation therapy. This preliminary study showed that smoking cessation delivery, according to the clinical practice guidelines recommendation, in Saudi Arabia is inadequate. Barriers were identified regarding the delivery of smoking cessation therapy and counseling for the first time. Physician training is likely to improve compliance with implementing smoking cessation counseling and therapy.

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