The role of middle managers in tobacco control after a national smoke-free hospital campus ban

BMC Health Serv Res. 2016 Sep 23;16(1):517. doi: 10.1186/s12913-016-1764-0.


Background: Much of the recent health services research on tobacco control implementation has explored general views and perceptions of health professionals and has rarely taken into account middle management's perspectives. We state that middle managers may facilitate the implementation of smoke-free campus bans and thereby improve their effectiveness. The aim of this study was to assess middle managers' behaviors to enforce a new national smoke-free hospital campus ban, to evaluate their perceptions of the level of compliance of the new regulation, and to explore their attitudes towards how smoking affects the work environment.

Methods: We used a cross-sectional survey, conducted online to evaluate middle managers of a general hospital in Catalonia, Spain. Close-ended and open-ended questions were included. Results were analyzed by using quantitative and qualitative methods. The managers' open opinions to the proposed topics were assessed using UCINET, and a graph was generated in NetDraw.

Results: Sixty-three of the invited managers (78.7 %) participated in the survey. 87.2 % of them agreed that the hospital complied with the smoke-free campus ban and 79.0 % agreed that managers have an important role in enforcing the ban. They also perceived that smoking disturbs the dynamics of work, is a cause of conflict between smokers and non-smokers, and harms both the professional and the organization images. However, 96.8 % of respondents have never given out fines or similar measures and their active role in reminding others of the policy was limited; in addition, 68.2 % considered that hospitals should provide tobacco cessation treatments. Smoker middle managers were more likely than non-smokers to perceive that smoking has little impact on work.

Conclusions: Middle managers play a limited role in controlling tobacco consumption; smokers are less prone to think that smoking disturbs work dynamics than non-smokers. Tailored training and clear proceedings for middle managers could encourage more active roles.

Keywords: Hospital; Managers; Mixed methods; Smoke-free policies; Sociometric analysis.