Smoking is a major public health problem in China. Dentists can participate in tobacco control activity.
Aim: To report the curriculum impact on dental students' tobacco control attitudes and beliefs in Harbin Dental School, Harbin, China.
Methods: A descriptive cross sectional study using the Global Health Professionals Survey self-complete questionnaire, assessing respondents': tobacco use prevalence, second-hand smoke exposure, knowledge and attitudes regarding tobacco control, smoking and cessation, and the content of the dental school's curriculum and training on tobacco effects and patient counselling. Third, 4th and 5th year undergraduates and postgraduate students participated in December 2005.
Results: The response rate was 96%. Current smoking prevalence was 4% whilst 74% reported exposure to second hand smoke in the previous week. There was variable recall of aspects of teaching, 12% reporting receiving formal smoking cessation training. Respondents were extremely positive in their professional behaviour beliefs but less about population based tobacco control. There was no relationship between curriculum recall and positive beliefs and attitudes about tobacco control.
Conclusions: In this sample of Chinese dental students a low current smoking prevalence and high levels of exposure to second hand smoke were reported. Varying levels of recall of tobacco control aspects of the dental curriculum existed. Positive tobacco control attitudes and beliefs were reported, but this did not necessarily correlate with aspects of the curriculum content.