On 17 June at 14:00 Mariliis Põld will defend her doctoral thesis “Smoking, attitudes towards smoking behaviour, and nicotine dependence among physicians in Estonia: cross-sectional surveys 1982–2014”.
Associate Professor Kersti Pärna, University of Tartu
Professor Eero Lahelma, University of Helsinki (Finland)
Tobacco use is one of the main health risks related to morbidity and mortality. Reducing smoking will result in gaining healthy life years and decreasing mortality. Physicians have an important role in reducing the smoking in society. However, physicians' own smoking behaviour and attitudes have an effect on addressing patients' smoking.
The objective of the research was to provide evidence on smoking, attitudes towards smoking behaviour, and nicotine dependence among physicians in Estonia in 1982–2014.
The study was based on cross-sectional data from Estonian physicians’ smoking surveys carried out in 1982, 2002 and 2014. Data from all practicing physicians were collected by postal survey. Physicians were asked about their smoking habits, their attitudes towards smoking as a risk behaviour, and how often they addressed their patients’ smoking habits. Desire to quit smoking and nicotine dependence among daily smoking physicians was assessed.
The results of the survey showed that current smoking among physicians decreased almost three times from 1982 to 2014, particularly among under 45-year-olds. However, physicians started to smoke at an earlier age. In 2014, 12% of men and 4% of women smoked daily. Over the study period, physicians became less favouring towards smoking and the addressing patients’ smoking habits increased. Physicians who smoked, were less strict about smoking and less likely to ask their patients about smoking. At the same time, more than half of currently smoking physicians expressed desire to quit smoking. Almost 40% of daily smoking physicians had moderate or high nicotine dependence which in turn was associated with earlier age of smoking initiation.
The information obtained from the study contributes to the development of smoking cessation counselling and to the addressing smoking prevention as well as smoking cessation counselling issues in the medical education in Estonia.