Tobacco Treatment Guideline Use and Predictors Among U.S. Physicians by Specialty


      Physicians play a critical role in tobacco treatment, being a frequent link to smokers and a trusted source of information. Unfortunately, barriers exist that limit physicians’ implementation of evidence-based interventions. This study examines the implementation and predictors of the Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange model of tobacco treatment clinical guidelines among U.S. physicians.


      A national sample of 1,058 U.S. physicians from 6 specialties (family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, pulmonology, and oncology) were surveyed in 2018 (51.8% response rate). Survey domains included demographics, awareness of the guidelines, tobacco treatment practices (i.e., Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange model), perceived barriers to treatment, and perceived efficacy of various treatments. Multiple logistic regression analyzed the predictors of implementing guideline activities.


      Mean age was 51.3 years, with the majority male (64.4%) and non-Hispanic White (63.9%). Nearly all physicians reported asking patients whether they smoke (95.6%) and advising them to stop (94.8%), slightly fewer assessed the readiness to quit (86.5%), and only a minority assisted with a quit plan (27.4%) or arranged a follow-up (18.6%). Only 18% reported using the U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines in clinical practice. Time-related factors were the most common barriers (53.4%), with patient factors (36.9%) and financial/resource factors (35.1%) cited less frequently. The predictors of implementing aspects of the Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange model included physician awareness and utilization of the U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines, specialty, and to a smaller degree, graduating before 1990, not reporting time as a barrier, patient barriers, sex, and higher perceived effectiveness of pharmacotherapy.


      This national survey highlights the need for increased implementation of all aspects of the latest guidelines for evidence-based tobacco treatments, including community-based resources.
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