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Smoking behaviour and attitudes regarding the role of physicians in tobacco control among medical students in Kuopio, Finland in 2006

Authors:

Adetunji T. Toriola ,

School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, FI
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Markku T. Myllykangas,

School of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Kuopio, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, FI
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Noël C. Barengo

Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, FI
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Abstract

Background: The smoking behaviour of medical students may predict their intentions to counsel patients who are smokers about smoking cessation. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of smoking among medical students in Kuopio and whether attitudes towards tobacco control and future smoking cessation advice is related to their own smoking status.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among medical students at the University of Kuopio, Finland in 2006 using a validated self-administered questionnaire about smoking behaviour and smoking cessation developed by the WHO. The final participation rate was 61%.

Results: Smoking prevalence among the students was 15% (daily smoking 3%, occasional smoking 12%). Smoking prevalence was higher among males than among females (23% vs 11%, respectively, p-value 0.006). Smokers perceived active and passive smoking as being less harmful to health than non-smokers (p-values <0.0001). More non-smokers (33%), compared with smokers (25%, p-value 0.006) planned to advise smoking patients who do not have symptoms or diagnosis of tobacco related disease and who do not raise questions about smoking to quit smoking. Non-smokers were more likely to believe that it is the doctor’s responsibility to convince people to stop using tobacco compared with smokers (49% vs 33%, respectively, p-value 0.011).

Conclusion: Medical students’ smoking behaviour negatively affects their plans to give smoking cessation advice once they become physicians and their attitudes on the roles of physicians in tobacco control programs. Hence, there is a need to introduce a well structured, compulsory tobacco control program into the medical curriculum at the University of Kuopio in order to prepare students for their future roles in promoting tobacco control initiatives.

How to Cite: Toriola AT, Myllykangas MT, Barengo NC. Smoking behaviour and attitudes regarding the role of physicians in tobacco control among medical students in Kuopio, Finland in 2006. Global Heart. 2008;3(2):53–60. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.precon.2007.10.001
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Published on 01 Apr 2008.

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