Background: Surveys suggest that, consistent with a high smoking prevalence, Chinese smokers in the general population report little interest in quitting. In other cultures, surgery is a powerful teachable moment for smoking cessation, increasing the rate of spontaneous quitting. We determined the perioperative tobacco use behavior of Chinese patients scheduled for elective surgery who smoke cigarettes and factors associated with both preoperative intent to abstain and self-reported smoking behavior at 30 days postoperatively. Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that perception of the health risks of smoking would be independently associated with both preoperative intent to abstain and self-reported abstinence at 30 days postoperatively.
Methods: Patients ≥18 years of age scheduled for elective noncardiovascular surgery at Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing, China, were assessed preoperatively and up to 30 days postoperatively for factors associated with smoking behavior, including indices measuring knowledge of smoking-related health risks.
Results: Of the 227 patients surveyed at baseline, most (164, 72%) intended to remain abstinent after hospital discharge. For the 204 patients contacted at 30 days postoperatively, 126 (62%) self-reported abstinence. In multivariate analysis, factors associated with preoperative intent to abstain after surgery included older age, self-efficacy for abstaining, and undergoing major surgery; factors associated with abstinence included older age, self-efficacy, major surgery, and preoperative intent to abstain. Higher perception of benefits from quitting was associated with intent, but not abstinence. Knowledge of the health risks caused by smoking was not found to be associated with either intent or abstinence, so that the hypothesis was not supported.
Conclusions: Both intent to quit and self-efficacy for maintaining abstinence appear to be much higher in Chinese surgical patients than in prior surveys of the general Chinese population, and the majority of surgical patients maintained abstinence for at least 30 days. These findings suggest that surgery can serve as a powerful teachable moment for smoking cessation in China.