Background: Motivation to stop smoking is associated with smokers' possessing substantial smoking-related morbidity or believing that they have symptoms caused by smoking, but it is not clear if this holds for smokers attending general practice consultations.
Objective: Our aim was to compare the attitudes and behaviour of smokers attending their GP with symptoms that they believe are smoking related with those who do not.
Method: A cross-sectional, pre-consultation survey of patients attending GPs in Leicester, UK was carried out.
Results: A total of 83.8% (2955/3525) of people attending GPs completed the questionnaire and 34.7% were smokers. Multiple logistic regression showed that where smokers perceived that their problems were smoking related they were more likely to have tried stopping in the past [odds ratio (OR) 1.78, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.26-2.67], to want to stop smoking (OR 1.83, CI 1.15-2.9) or to intend to stop in the near future (OR 1.58, CI 1.03-2.43).
Conclusion: Smokers who attend GPs' routine consultations and believe that they have smoking-related problems are more motivated to stop than others. This suggests that it is important for GPs to ascertain patients' views about the aetiology of their symptoms before discussing smoking with them.