- Nearly 80% of doctors around the world mistakenly believe that nicotine causes lung cancer, frustrating efforts to help one billion smokers quit
- A survey of more than 15,000 doctors from 11 countries reveals the need for more training- The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World invites researchers to propose new tests and educational programs
NEW YORK, July 20, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- A significant majority of physicians around the world wrongly attribute the negative health consequences of smoking to nicotine, directly jeopardizing the gains made in helping smokers quit, according to a survey funded by a grant from the Smoke-Free World Foundation.
Sermo, an independent platform and leader in practical information about healthcare professionals, has surveyed more than 15,000 doctors online in 11 countries (China, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States).
Although an average of 87% of doctors agree, at least moderately, that helping patients to quit smoking is a priority, it is concerning that an average of 74% mistakenly believe that nicotine causes a range of diseases, from lung cancer to COPD.
These results raise serious questions about the ability of physicians to provide smoking patients with the most accurate and effective advice on how to quit smoking. This misperception could explain the fact that, on average, only half of clinicians (55% on average) recommend over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy to help patients quit smoking.
"It is imperative that clinicians receive proper training to learn the facts about nicotine and tobacco harm reduction options that can help their smoking patients quit," said Dr. Muhammad Ahmed, director of health and science research at the Smoke-Free World Foundation. "With more than 7 million smokers dying each year from tobacco-related diseases around the world, many lives can be saved if clinicians are better acquainted with the tools available for smoking cessation."
Dr. Jed Rose, President and CEO of the Rose Research Center (RRC) and co-inventor of the nicotine patch, explained: "Patients turn to physicians for reliable health advice. Therefore, it is vital that physicians provide smokers with accurate and up-to-date advice on the health risks of smoking cigarettes compared to using products that deliver nicotine without combustion."
The RRC is a research center based in Raleigh, North Carolina, specializing in tobacco dependence research, including research on smokers, addiction, smoking cessation, tobacco harm reduction, and the use of other tobacco products. The RRC is a recipient of a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World.
Although there is almost unanimity in the healthcare community that combustion, rather than nicotine, is what causes the negative health consequences of smoking, the survey of physicians revealed that:
Although these misperceptions are alarming, on average 81% of clinicians surveyed are at least moderately interested in training focused on smoking cessation and tobacco harm reduction.
The survey, conducted in 2022, also found that while physicians' discussions with smoking patients focus on the health benefits of cutting down or quitting smoking (73% global average) and the health risks of continuing to do so (73% global average), a comparatively small number of physicians—just over half (56% global average)—recommend reducing the amount of tobacco products smoked and less than half of physicians (48% average worldwide) help patients develop a plan to quit smoking.
The Smoke-Free World Foundation invites researchers to submit proposals to further analyze the results of the Physician Survey and propose programs to help improve physicians' fluency in tobacco cessation and tobacco harm reduction. Researchers interested in submitting a proposal should contact email@example.com. The results of the survey can be viewed on the foundation's website via the website at www.smokefreeworld.org/doctorssurvey2022....
About the Foundation for a Smoke Free World
The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World is an independent US 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that makes grants for the purpose of improving global health by ending smoking in this generation. The Foundation supports its mission through three broad categories of work: Health Research and Science; Agricultural Diversification; and Industry Transformation. Funded by annual donations from PMI Global Services Inc. ("PMI"), the Foundation is independent of PMI and operates in a manner that ensures its independence from any commercial entity. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.smokefreeworld.org.
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