University of Vermont

Office of Health Promotion Research

OHPR Abstract 232

Abstract 2000-2008

Secker-Walker RH, Dana GS, Solomon LJ, Flynn BS, Geller BM. The role of health professionals in a community-based program to help women quit smoking. Prev Med. 2000 Feb;30(2):126-37.

BACKGROUND: Health professionals are credible sources of smoking cessation advice. This study describes changes in health professionals' reported provision of smoking cessation counseling activities for women during a community health education project that took place in two intervention counties (I) and compares these to reports from health professionals in two similar comparison counties (C). METHODS: Specific smoking cessation activities reported by physicians (I n = 73, C n = 73), dentists (I n = 51, C n = 46), dental hygienists (I n = 38, C n = 44), family planning and WIC (Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children) counselors (I n = 14 C n = 16), and community mental health counselors (I n = 57, C n = 23) were assessed by mailed surveys at baseline, after 4 years of countywide interventions, and 2 years later. RESULTS: Compared with health professionals in the comparison counties, significant increases in smoking cessation training (P < 0.01) and in reported referral of women to stop smoking groups, support groups, and one-to-one support were noted for physicians, family planning, and WIC counselors (P < 0.001); in training and referral to stop smoking groups and support groups by dentists and dental hygienists (P < 0.05); and in referral to support groups by community mental health counselors (P < 0.05). Significant increases in setting quit dates (P < 0.05) and providing self-help materials (P < 0.01) were also noted for family planning and WIC counselors. These effects were no longer demonstrable 2 years after external support for the countywide interventions was withdrawn. CONCLUSIONS: We suggest that an important aspect of facilitating consistent smoking cessation advice and counseling from health professionals in the future will be the provision of a broader range of regularly available smoking cessation support systems within communities than is generally available at this time in the United States. Copyright 2000 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.

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