Purpose: Many cancer patients continue to smoke after diagnosis, increasing their risk for treatment complications, reduced treatment efficacy, secondary cancers, and reduced survival. Outpatient oncology providers may not be using the "teachable moment" of cancer diagnosis to provide smoking cessation assistance. PROVIDERS AND METHODS: Physicians and midlevel providers (n = 74) who provide outpatient oncology services completed an online survey regarding smoking cessation counseling behaviors, beliefs, and perceived barriers. Outpatient medical records for 120 breast, lung, head and neck, colon, prostate, and acute leukemia cancer patients were reviewed to assess current smoking cessation assessment and intervention documentation practices.
Results: Providers reported commonly assessing smoking in new patients (82.4% frequently or always), but rates declined at subsequent visits for both current smokers and recent quitters. Rates of advising patients to quit smoking were also high (86.5% frequently or always), but <30% of providers reported frequently or always providing intervention to smoking patients (e.g., nicotine replacement therapy or other medications, self-help materials, and/or referrals). Only 30% of providers reported that they frequently or always followed up with patients to assess progress with quitting. Few providers (18.1%) reported high levels of confidence in their ability to counsel smoking patients. Patients' lack of motivation was identified as the most important barrier to smoking cessation.
Conclusions: Although beliefs about providing cessation services to smoking patients were generally positive, few providers reported commonly providing interventions beyond advice to quit. Additional training and clinic-based interventions may improve adherence to tobacco cessation practice guidelines in the outpatient oncology setting.