Few Dentists Offer Help for Tobacco Cessation
June 20, 2014
By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service
INTELIHEALTH - Dentists are less likely than physicians to talk with smokers about quitting, says a national study.
Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health did the study. They used survey data from 2010 and 2011. They found that more than 9 million smokers who visited a dentist during that time did not receive any advice or information about smoking cessation.
About 31% of smokers were advised to quit by a dentist. About 65% had been advised to quit by a physician.
Physicians also were more likely than dentists to offer help beyond just the advice to quit. About 53% of physicians offered more help, compared with 25% of dentists.
Since 1992, the American Dental Association has urged dentists and dental offices to learn ways to educate patients who smoke or use smokeless tobacco.
A 2013 study found that more than three-fourths of dentists advised tobacco users to quit. But fewer dentists provided further help. The dentists in this study reported several barriers to talking with patients about tobacco cessation:
A belief that their patients would not want to talk about the topic
A lack of insurance reimbursement for the time spent discussing tobacco cessation
Not knowing where to refer patients who wanted help with quitting
Not having enough time to talk with patients about tobacco cessation
The Harvard study appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.