A qualitative assessment of provider perspectives on smoking cessation counselling.

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doi: 10.1111/jep.12124; PMCID: PMC4441728


RATIONALE, AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: Few studies have examined doctors' views about counselling unmotivated smokers. This study explored doctors' perceptions of useful strategies to motivate patients to quit, how receptive they felt patients were to these strategies, and the benefits and drawbacks of discussing smoking cessation with patients.

METHODS: Fourteen semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with doctors and resident doctors.

RESULTS: Strategies reported by providers included: educating about the health risks of smoking, using 'scare tactics' to highlight the harmful effects and providing advice about how to quit. Providers believed that most patients were receptive to their strategies, but noted that they lacked feedback to know for sure. Providers saw the possibility of improving patients' health and decreasing overall health care costs as potential benefits, but cited the potential to damage rapport, competing priorities during already rushed visits and uncertainty about the effectiveness of their efforts as drawbacks that reduced their motivation to raise the issue with patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Doctors believe in the potential benefits of smoking cessation counselling but predominantly report focusing on enhancing patient's risk perceptions. They did not report attempting to use the wider array of recommended and empirically supported methods to counsel their patients. Providing doctors with increased training in motivational counselling and feedback about the efficacy their efforts or supplementing doctor care with behaviour change specialists would likely increase the benefits of counselling to patients.

Journal Title

Journal of evaluation in clinical practice





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MeSH Keywords

Adult; Attitude of Health Personnel; Counseling; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Physician-Patient Relations; Qualitative Research; Smoking Cessation


Smoking cessation counseling, Patient-provider communication, Physician perspectives