Objective: The smoking status of physicians can impact interactions with patients about smoking. The 'Smoking: The Opinions of Physicians' (STOP) survey examined whether an association existed between physician smoking status and beliefs about smoking and cessation and a physician's clinical interactions with patients relevant to smoking cessation, and perceptions of barriers to assisting with quitting.
Methods: General and family practitioners across 16 countries were surveyed via telephone or face-to-face interviews using a convenience-sample methodology. Physician smoking status was self-reported.
Results: Of 4473 physicians invited, 2836 (63%) participated in the survey, 1200 (42%) of whom were smokers. Significantly fewer smoking than non-smoking physicians volunteered that smoking was a harmful activity (64% vs 77%; P<0.001). More non-smokers agreed that smoking cessation was the single biggest step to improving health (88% vs 82%; P<0.001) and discussed smoking at every visit (45% vs 34%; P<0.001). Although more non-smoking physicians identified willpower (37% vs 32%; P<0.001) and lack of interest (28% vs 22%; P<0.001) as barriers to quitting, more smoking physicians saw stress as a barrier (16% vs 10%; P<0.001).
Conclusion: Smoking physicians are less likely to initiate cessation interventions.
Practice implications: There is a need for specific strategies to encourage smoking physicians to quit, and to motivate all practitioners to adopt systematic approaches to assisting with smoking cessation.