Issue addressed: Dentists and dental hygienists are important but under-used professionals in the delivery of smoking cessation services. This study compared confidence and barriers among dentists and dental hygienists and analysed the impact of barriers on smoking cessation activities.
Methods: Participants were surveyed on their confidence, perceived barriers, level of smoking cessation activity and practice and demographic factors.
Results: Fifty-eight dental hygienists (83% response rate) and 334 dentists (54% response rate) practising in South Australia responded to the survey. Participants indicated high rates of advising patients to quit smoking, but low rates of assisting and referring patients. Hygienists reported greater levels of activity and confidence, fewer barriers and longer consultation times. Confidence, system barriers, and practitioner barriers emerged as the most important predictors of service provision for both dentists and hygienists. Reported levels of smoking-specific education and training were very low (dentists 4%, hygienists 6%).
Conclusions: There is potential to increase dentists' and dental hygienists' rates of smoking cessation activity, particularly for the more proactive strategies such as assisting patients to quit and arranging referrals.