Perception of the damaging effects of smoking, and brief cessation counselling by doctors

Swiss Med Wkly. 2005 Apr 30;135(17-18):256-62. doi: 10.4414/smw.2005.10759.


An open prospective study was conducted among the patients visiting an urban medical policlinic for the first time without an appointment to assess whether the immigrants (who represent more than half of our patients) are aware of the health effects of smoking, whether the level of acculturation influences knowledge, and whether doctors give similar advice to Swiss and foreign smokers. 226 smokers, 105 Swiss (46.5%), and 121 foreign-born (53.5%), participated in the study. 32.2% (95% CI [24.4%; 41.1%]) of migrants and 9.6% [5.3%; 16.8%] of Swiss patients were not aware of negative effects of smoking. After adjustment for age, the multivariate model showed that the estimated odds of "ignorance of health effects of smoking" was higher for people lacking mastery of the local language compared with those mastering it (odds ratio (OR) = 7.5 [3.6; 15.8], p < 0.001), and higher for men (OR = 4.3 [1.9; 10.0], p < 0.001). Advice to stop smoking was given with similar frequency to immigrants (31.9% [24.2%; 40.8%] and Swiss patients (29.0% [21.0%; 38.5%]). Nonintegrated patients did not appear to receive less counselling than integrated patients (OR = 1.1 [0.6; 2.1], p = 0.812). We conclude that the level of knowledge among male immigrants not integrated or unable to speak the local language is lower than among integrated foreign-born and Swiss patients. Smoking cessation counselling by a doctor was only given to a minority of patients, but such counselling seemed irrespective of nationality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Counseling*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Switzerland