Objective: The aim of this study was to ascertain opinions, current practices, likely readiness to change and perceived barriers to change among Australian GPs in order to develop a plan to implement national guidelines for smoking cessation advice.
Method: A postal survey of randomly selected GPs in New South Wales, Australia was carried out.
Results: We received 311 returned questionnaires (73% response rate). Only 34% of respondents reported providing cessation advice during every routine consultation with a smoker, in accordance with national guidelines. Specific evidence-based approaches recommended in guidelines were under-utilized, with only 54% 'always' or 'frequently' arranging follow-up, 32% providing written materials and 28% setting a 'quit date'. Respondents were no more likely to advise quitting completely than the less effective method of nicotine fading. More than one in four respondents (28%) indicated readiness to change their behaviour. Respondents rated their patients' lack of motivation and uninterest as the most important barriers to smoking cessation advice in general practice. Neither uncertainty about effective smoking cessation strategies nor lack of reimbursement for smoking cessation advice were identified as barriers.
Conclusions: A multicomponent intervention to address suboptimal behaviour and barriers as revealed by this survey holds considerable potential to plan effective implementation of smoking cessation guidelines in general practice. The use of readiness to change as a tool to 'individualize' strategies for guideline implementation should be explored.