Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Smoking among health professional students

Roger Watson, Editor-in-Chief

Smoking among health professionals is a paradox; why would people well aware of the risks do it? But they do and smoking among health professional students is common as shown by the plumes of smoke rising up from any group of nursing students at my university as they cross the campus.

A study form Spain of nursing and physiotherapy students by Ordás et al. (2105) titled:'Changes in use, knowledge, beliefs and attitudes relating to tobacco among nursing and physiotherapy students: a 10-year analysisand published in JAN analyses 'changes in prevalence, knowledge, beliefs and attitudes relating to smoking among undergraduate nursing and physiotherapy students' over 10 years.  The study showed that these students still smoked but that over the 10 years of the study (2003-2013) that it has reduced as follows: 'The proportion of smokers among nursing and physiotherapy students in 2003, 2008 and 2013 was 29 .3%, 24 .7% and 18. 2% respectively.'

While the above may be good news, there was an appalling lack of knowledge among these students of the risks they were taking.  Specifically: 'Students were not aware of any relationship between pulmonary emphysema, bladder cancer, coronary artery disease or
leukoplakia and tobacco use, this lack of knowledge increasing significantly over the years, in some cases to over half of the cohort. This was the case for bladder cancer where the lack of awareness of any relationship rose from 32-55.3%. Deficient knowledge was also noted in respect of links between health problems and exposure to second-hand smoke. For instance, the percentage of students that did not identify any relation with cardiovascular diseases, childhood asthma and under-weight new-born children increased statistically over the years, in the case of under-weight new-borns reaching 31%.'

In conclusion, the authors say: 'Most of the students who smoked had begun to do so before commencing their university studies. Hence, smoking prevention policies should pay special attention to adolescents and continue through university education, but should also implement active programmes to help university sudents who smoke to give up the habit. The decline in the
level of awareness of features of smoking declared by students of Health Sciences over the ten years provides evidence of a significant deficiency in undergraduate training.

You can listen to this as a podcast


Ordás B, Fernández D, Ordóňez C, Marqués-Sánchez P, Álvarez MJ, Martínez S, Pinto A (2105) Changes in use, knowledge, beliefs and attitudes relating to tobacco among nursing and physiotherapy students: a 10-year analysis Journal of Advanced Nursing doi: 10.1111/jan.12703

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