Smokers ages 50+: who gets physician advice to quit?

Prev Med. 2000 Oct;31(4):364-9. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2000.0721.


Background: Smoking-related morbidity and mortality, and benefits associated with quitting, extend across the life span. Health care provider interventions enhance quitting. The present study examined perceived influence of physician advice to quit and characteristics of subjects receiving this advice.

Methods: Subjects were 1,454 smokers ages 50+ with at least one physician visit in the past year. Subjects were surveyed at baseline for receipt of and reactions to physician advice to quit and for smoking, health, and demographic characteristics.

Results: Over half of subjects welcomed physician advice to quit, about half said the advice influenced their quitting decision "extremely" or "quite a lot," and about one-third indicated that it increased their confidence in quitting. Physicians were more likely to advise sicker patients, indicated by poorer health status, at least one past year hospitalization, and presence of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, or respiratory diseases.

Conclusions: Midlife and older smokers reacted generally favorably to physician advice to quit. Physicians were more likely to advise patients with commonly recognized smoking-related diseases. Discrepancies were noted in advice given to sicker vs healthier patients. Additional physician training in less commonly recognized smoking-related illnesses, intervening with healthier patients to prevent disease, and enhancing patients' confidence in quitting may improve outcomes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires