Pediatric Resident Training in Tobacco Control and the Electronic Health Record

Published:October 29, 2020DOI:
      Given the dangers posed by tobacco use and tobacco smoke exposure, pediatricians should address tobacco use and exposure with patients and parents at every opportunity, but this is not consistently done in practice. One reason may be that many medical residents do not receive education on how to address tobacco use and tobacco smoke exposure with patients and their parents. In a 2012 survey of U.S. pediatric program directors, 65% of programs reported covering tobacco control in their curricula, but most training programs focused on tobacco's health effects and not intervention strategies for clinical practice. Since that survey, electronic health records have been implemented broadly nationwide and utilized to address tobacco smoke exposure. Investigators surveyed U.S. program directors in 2018 and residents in 2019 to explore the ways in which the residents learn about tobacco use and tobacco smoke exposure, components and use of the electronic record specific to tobacco use and tobacco smoke exposure, and perceived resident effectiveness in this area. All the program directors and 85% of the residents valued training, but 21% of the residents reported receiving none. Moreover, a minority of the residents assessed themselves as effective at counseling parents (19%) or adolescents (23%), and their perceived effectiveness was related to small group learning and active learning workshops, modalities that were infrequently implemented in training. Respondents also reported infrequent use of electronic health record prompts regarding tobacco and the absence of prompts about critical issues (e.g., addressing tobacco smoke exposure in vehicles or other settings or offering treatment or referrals to parents who smoke). This paper provides recommendations about augmenting pediatric resident training in simple ways.
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