Background: Primary care physicians are urged to offer smoking cessation counseling to their patients. Many studies have sought to determine which smoking interventions are most effective in medical office settings. As a result, routine identification of smokers, brief counseling, referral to smoking cessation programs, and nicotine replacement therapy are advocated. The context of patient visits during which smoking cessation advice is given, however, has received little attention. The objective of this study was to determine if patients' reasons for visits and self-reported readiness to quit smoking are associated with likelihood and type of smoking cessation intervention offered by family physicians.
Methods: The study was conducted in the Upper Peninsula Research Network (UPRNet), a voluntary association of family physicians in 15 medical clinics located in rural areas of northern Michigan. Practice coordinators administered a 1-page exit questionnaire to every other adult patient seen by a participating physician immediately after the office visit. Clinicians were blinded to the specific purpose of the questionnaire. During the study, 2317 questionnaires were administered, yielding information on 455 smokers.
Results: The overall rate of physicians' providing any smoking cessation intervention at any type of visit was 47%. There was a significant association between frequency of smoking cessation intervention and reasons for visits (chi 2 = 10.46, P = .01). There was a statistically significant difference between stages of readiness to quit and frequency of smoking cessation intervention offered (chi 2 = 26.5, P < .001). Clinicians offered smoking cessation interventions to smokers in the precontemplative stage significantly less often than to smokers in the contemplation, preparation, or action stages.
Conclusions: UPRNet practitioners vary the frequency of smoking cessation interventions according to patients' reasons for the medical visit and their readiness to quit smoking.