Background: Hospitalization with tobacco-related illness increases smokers' interest in cessation. Because parental smoking increases the child's risk of developing respiratory and other illnesses, a child's hospitalization might motivate a smoking parent to consider changing smoking behavior. It is unclear if parents would be receptive to smoking-cessation interventions at the time when their child is hospitalized.
Methods: In March 1999, parents of 298 consecutive children admitted to the medical services at Children's Hospital Boston were interviewed to determine the smoking status of household members. Smoking parents were invited to complete a 35-item questionnaire regarding personal smoking history and acceptability of three types of cessation interventions.
Results: Sixty-five smoking parents were identified among the 298 admissions; 62 of 65 (95%) participated in the survey. Among respondents, only 15% had ever participated in any smoking-cessation program, and only 31% had ever used a medication to try to quit. Although 78% of parents were willing to speak with a counselor about their smoking while their child was in the hospital, and 74% would enroll in a telephone-based smoking-cessation program, only 26% were interested in a free program requiring travel back to the hospital. All parents believed that pediatricians should offer parental smokers the chance to participate in a smoking-cessation program.
Conclusions: At the time of a child's hospitalization, parents are willing to enroll in smoking interventions that include in-hospital and telephone counseling but not to travel back to the hospital. A child's hospitalization may provide a unique opportunity to enroll parents who smoke into cessation programs.