Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size
Users Online: 773
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents 
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 261-264  

Tobacco use, attitudes and cessation practices among healthcare workers of a city health department in Southern India

Division of Epidemiology and Population Health, St John's Medical College and Research Institute, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication8-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
Prem K Mony
Professor and Head, Division of Epidemiology and Population Health, St John's Medical College and Research Institute, 100 Feet Road, Koramangala, Bangalore - 560 034, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: Soukhya project grant from the Indian Council of Medical Research (RHN/Ad-hoc/22/2010-11)., Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.154670

Rights and Permissions

Objective: To assess tobacco use, attitudes and cessation practices among healthcare workers of a municipal health department in southern India. Materials and Methods: We undertook a cross-sectional epidemiologic study to investigate 558 healthcare workers from three groups (doctors, auxiliary nurses and community link workers (LWs)) employed by the Bangalore city corporation in southern India. Outcomes included self-reported tobacco use status and attitudes (for all workers), and (for doctors) self-report of performance of "5-A" tobacco cessation interventions: Asking, advising, assessing, assisting, or arranging follow-up for tobacco control, in their client population. Results: Doctors reported higher tobacco use rates (6.9%) compared to LW (2%) and nurses (<1%) but were less interested in further tobacco control training (77%) compared to the others (>95%). Many doctors reported asking (100%) and advising (78%) about tobacco use but much fewer were assessing intention/motivation to quit (24%), assisting with quitting (19%), and arranging follow-up for quitting and relapse prevention (9%). Conclusion: Tailored training in tobacco control would enable doctors, nurses and outreach workers involved in primary healthcare delivery to be better equipped to deal with a major cause of morbidity and mortality among urban communities in the 21 st century.

Keywords: Attitudes, cessation practices, healthcare workers, India, primary healthcare, tobacco use

How to cite this article:
Mony PK, Vishwanath N S, Krishnan S. Tobacco use, attitudes and cessation practices among healthcare workers of a city health department in Southern India. J Family Med Prim Care 2015;4:261-4

How to cite this URL:
Mony PK, Vishwanath N S, Krishnan S. Tobacco use, attitudes and cessation practices among healthcare workers of a city health department in Southern India. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2015 [cited 2021 Sep 27];4:261-4. Available from: https://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2015/4/2/261/154670

  Introduction Top

There is growing recognition that even though effective tobacco control interventions are available, they remain largely under-utilized in most low- and middle-income countries. Within the health sector, tobacco--dependence treatment efforts have focused predominantly on healthcare professionals such as physicians, dentists and specialists in India [1] with the resultant accessibility of tobacco cessation services being mostly limited to those who seek such services in hospitals [2],[3] and not in primary healthcare facilities or in the community. With 41% of the population in southern India living in urban areas, [4] and up to a fifth of them using tobacco in some form or other, [5] healthcare workers in municipal primary healthcare services frequently encounter smokers and other tobacco users. However, tobacco use prevalence, cessation practices, and beliefs of these healthcare workers are less well known. In this paper, we describe tobacco use, attitudes and cessation practices among healthcare workers of a municipal health department in southern India.

  Materials and Methods Top

We undertook a rapid needs-assessment survey using a cross-sectional epidemiologic study design. The target population was 602 subjects from three healthcare worker groups: Physicians, auxiliary nurses and community link workers (LWs) employed by the Bangalore city corporation in southern India. A brief, self-administered, structured questionnaire was used to collect basic demographic information and practice characteristics followed by their self-reported tobacco use and attitude toward tobacco bans in public places. In addition, physicians' adherence to tobacco control guidelines suggested by the U.S. Public Health Services [6],[7] based on Prochaska's Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change was also assessed. [8],[9] Outcomes included self-reported tobacco use status, attitude toward tobacco ban, and self-reported performance of the "5 A's": Asking, advising, assessing, assisting, or arranging follow-up for tobacco cessation. In addition, all were also asked about further interest in tobacco control training. Simple descriptive analysis was undertaken with chi-square (χ2 ) for categorical variables and t-test/F-test for continuous variables using SPSS (version 16.0). A P value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Ethics approval was obtained from St John's Medical College Institutional Ethical Review Board and all participants provided written informed consent. The self-administered questionnaire was distributed to participants and collected after completion (about 20 min). Anonymity was respected.

  Results Top

A total of 558 (93%) municipal healthcare workers were covered in this survey. Response rates were 96%, 97% and 63% among LWs, nurses and physicians, respectively. Proportion of males among physicians, auxiliary nurses and LWs was 22.5%, 6% and 0%, respectively (χ2 = 66.7; df=2; P < 0.0001) while mean (± standard deviation (S.D.)) age of physicians, nurses and LWs was 45.7 (±10.1), 42.6 (±11.9) and 36.4 (±5.9) respectively (F-statistic = 42.5; df = 2; P < 0.0001). While all the physicians had completed graduate education, only 17% of nurses and 3.5% of LWs had completed graduate education. Mean (±S.D.) number of patients seen per day was 25 (±12.6) by physicians, 35 (±24.5) by nurses and 39 (±18) by LWs (F-statistic = 19.5; df = 2; P < 0.0001).

Self-reported tobacco use among males and females was 6.3% and 2.0% respectively but this was not statistically significant (χ2 = 1.3; df = 1; P = 0.3). Among physicians, 9.5% (2/21) of females were tobacco users compared to 0% (0/8) of males; among nurses, 12.5% (1/8) of males were tobacco users compared to 0% (0/121) of females; and among LWs who were all females, 2.2% (8/359) were tobacco users.

[Table 1] depicts attitude on tobacco bans and self-reported tobacco use among various categories of health workers. Nearly 8% of all healthcare workers were not in favor of complete tobacco bans in movie halls and restaurants. There was however no statistically significant difference by category of health workers (P = 0.25) or by tobacco-use status (P > 0.05; data not shown). Nurses (0.8%) and LWs (2.2%) reported relatively low tobacco-use prevalence as compared to physicians (7%); this difference was statistically significant for both smoking and smokeless tobacco.
Table 1: Attitude to bans and self-reported tobacco use among healthcare workers of Bangalore city corporation, 2012

Click here to view

[Figure 1] shows clinical practice patterns of the physicians with regard to tobacco control in their patients. All physicians reported asking about tobacco use and the majority (78%) offered advice about quitting tobacco. However, far fewer physicians were assessing intention/motivation to quit, assisting with quitting, and arranging follow-up for quitting and relapse prevention (25%, 19% and 9%, respectively).
Figure 1: Proportion of physicians offering the "5-A" cessation services to tobacco users seen in clinical practice

Click here to view

Lastly, a greater proportion of nurses (96%) and LWs (97%) evinced interest in additional tobacco control training as compared to physicians (77%) (χ2 = 25.1; df = 2; P < 0.0001). Keenness in further tobacco control training was not linked to reported tobacco use status (P = 0.68).

  Discussion Top

Primary care is an important context for promoting tobacco cessation. Major barriers to tobacco cessation in resource-limited settings such as India include low levels of awareness and healthcare seeking for assistance with quitting and the limited provision of smoking cessation interventions by physicians as part of routine care provision. Healthcare professionals have an important role to play in tobacco control especially in settings such as India given that health literacy is low and that other modes of education of the public such as pictorial warnings on tobacco packaging have been ineffective. [10] At the individual and community levels, they can educate patients and families about the harms of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke, and help tobacco users overcome their addiction by following standard guidelines for routine clinical care [6],[7] or through formal tobacco cessation clinics. [2],[3] At the national and global levels, healthcare professionals can advocate for greater resources and policy attention to tobacco control efforts.

Our finding of an overwhelming majority of physicians, nurses and LWs in this city health department having favorable attitudes toward tobacco bans in public places such as movie halls and restaurants was encouraging. Similar findings have been noted in a study of students of the healthcare professions in the same city. [11] Not surprising given these favorable attitudes, three fourth of physicians reported giving advice on quitting. A study of government medical college physicians in the southern state of Kerala had reported similar results as well. [12] However, our data indicate that few physicians offer tailored advice or support for tobacco cessation; only about one in four assessed the severity of nicotine dependence or the intention to quit, and fewer than one in five offered concrete assistance with quitting using pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic therapies. Further in-depth qualitative research may help uncover the reasons underlying the limited provision of tobacco cessation interventions by this group and understand the political and economic dynamics of suboptimal policy adoption and implementation. [13],[14] Although more than three-fourths of physicians responded favorably regarding additional training in tobacco control, it was lower compared to that seen among nurses and LWs. A recent meta-analysis has shown that training health professionals to provide smoking cessation interventions had a measurable effect on professional performance in terms of helping patients to set a quit date and counselling of smokers, as well as on patient outcomes such as point prevalence abstinence and continuous abstinence. [15] These findings suggest that provision of tobacco cessation services through Bangalore's municipal primary healthcare system may be enhanced by training frontline healthcare workers.

Tobacco-use rates among healthcare workers in our study was relatively low compared to that seen in other studies of healthcare workers in India [16],[17] and several other low- and middle-income countries. [18] It was also lower than that seen in the subset of the general population that had completed similar post-secondary education in Karnataka. [5] That said, tobacco use rates were higher among physicians compared to nurses in our study.

Selection bias and reporting bias are two limitations in surveys such as ours. The relatively low response rate among physicians in our study was a concern, though a review of the literature has shown that non-response bias may be less of an issue in health professionals' surveys than in surveys of the general public. [19] Another limitation of our study was that self-reporting may have been susceptible to social desirability bias, with fewer female healthcare workers reporting tobacco use and all healthcare workers reporting tobacco control-friendly attitudes and practices. We attempted to minimize bias by using an anonymous self-administered questionnaire.

In summary, our study identifies an opportunity to substantially increase the reach of tobacco control services to urban low- and middle-income populations in India by mobilizing municipal primary healthcare workers. Healthcare workers, except physicians, reported relatively low tobacco-use prevalence, positive attitudes toward general tobacco control efforts such as bans in public places and interest in further tobacco control training. Dissemination of provider education and implementation of preventive services guidelines and tobacco cessation services in urban primary healthcare centres may provide an urgently needed fillip to tobacco control efforts in India and similar limited resource settings.

  Acknowledgement Top

We would like to acknowledge the support of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in implementing this study. We thank the Chief Health Officer, the Bangalore Healthy Urbanization Project and all BBMP health department staff for their support and cooperation. We thank the Soukhya Project team for their assistance with data collection. The Soukhya project is supported by a grant from the Indian Council of Medical Research (RHN/Ad-hoc/22/2010-11). However, the views expressed are solely those of the authors.

  References Top

Murthy P, Saddichha S. Tobacco cessation services in India: Recent developments and the need for expansion. Indian J Cancer 2010;47 Suppl 1:69-74.  Back to cited text no. 1
Varghese C, Kaur J, Desai NG, Murthy P, Malhotra S, Subbakrishna DK, et al. Initiating tobacco cessation services in India: Challenges and opportunities. WHO South-East J Public Health 2012;1:159-68.  Back to cited text no. 2
D'Souza G, Rekha DP, Sreedaran P, Srinivasan K, Mony PK. Clinico-epidemiological profile of tobacco users attending a tobacco cessation clinic in a teaching hospital in Bangalore city. Lung India 2012; 29:137-42.  Back to cited text no. 3
Census 2011. Sheet1 - Census of India. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner. Available from: https://censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/Statement1_RU_State.xls [Last accessed on 2012 May 20].  Back to cited text no. 4
Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) India 2009-10. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi 2010. Available from: http://www.searo.who.int/linkfiles/regional_tobacco_surveillance_system_gats_india.pdf [Last accessed on 2012 June 7].  Back to cited text no. 5
Fiore MC, Bailey WC, Cohen SJ. Smoking Cessation. Clinical Practice Guideline 18. AHCPR 96-0692. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research; 1996.  Back to cited text no. 6
United States Public Health Service (USPHS). A clinical practice guideline for treating tobacco use and dependence: A US Public Health Service report. The Tobacco Use and Dependence Clinical Practice Guideline Panel, Staff and Consortium Representatives. JAMA 2000;283:3244-54.  Back to cited text no. 7
Prochaska JO, DiClemente CC. Self change processes, self efficacy and decisional balance across five stages of smoking cessation. Prog Clin Biol Res 1984;156:131-40.  Back to cited text no. 8
DiClemente CC, Prochaska JO, Fairhurst SK, Velicer WF, Velasquez MM, Rossi JS. The process of smoking cessation: An analysis of precontemplation, contemplation, and preparation stages of change. J Consult Clin Psychol 1991;59:295-304.  Back to cited text no. 9
Arora M, Tewari A, Nazar GP, Gupta VK, Shrivastav R. Ineffective pictorial health warnings on tobacco products: Lessons learnt from India. Indian J Public Health 2012;56:61-4.  Back to cited text no. 10
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Mony PK, Jayakumar S. Preparedness for tobacco control among postgraduate residents of a medical college in bangalore. Indian J Community Med 2011;36:104-8.  Back to cited text no. 11
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Thankappan KR, Pradeepkumar AS, Nichter M. Doctors' behaviour and skills for tobacco cessation in Kerala. Indian J Med Res 2009;129:249-55.  Back to cited text no. 12
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Raw M, Regan S, Rigotti NA, McNeill A. A survey of tobacco dependence treatment services in 36 countries. Addiction 2009;104:279-87.  Back to cited text no. 13
Bump JB, Reich MR. Political economy analysis for tobacco control in low- and middle-income countries. Health Policy Plan 2013;28:123-33.  Back to cited text no. 14
Carson KV, Verbiest ME, Crone MR, Brinn MP, Esterman AJ, Assendelft WJ, et al. Training health professionals in smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2012;5:CD000214.  Back to cited text no. 15
Reddy KS, Gupta PC. Report on tobacco control in India. Tobacco Use in India: Practices, Patterns and Prevalence. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; 2004. p. 51.  Back to cited text no. 16
Mohan S, Pradeepkumar AS, Thresia CU, Thankappan KR, Poston WS, Haddock CK, et al. Tobacco use among medical professionals in Kerala, India: The need for enhanced tobaccocessation and control efforts. Addict Behav 2006;31:2313-8.  Back to cited text no. 17
Smith DR, Leggat PA. An international review of tobacco smoking in the medical profession: 1974-2004. BMC Public Health 2007;7:115.  Back to cited text no. 18
Kellerman SE, Herold J. Physician response to survey: A review of the literature. Am J Prev Med 2001;20:61-7.  Back to cited text no. 19


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Tobacco use pattern and quitting behaviour among healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights from a pan India online survey
Bijaya Nanda Naik,Bijit Biswas,Chandramani Singh,Sanjay Pandey,Santosh Kumar Nirala,Neha Chaudhary
Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health. 2021; : 100838
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Estudio de corte transversal sobre el estado de conocimientos, actitudes y prácticas de médicos colombianos ante el tabaquismo
Claudia Ximena Robayo-González,Juan Carlos Uribe-Caputi
MedUNAB. 2018; 20(3): 327
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Tobacco Cessation Interventions in Tertiary Hospitals in Nigeria: An Audit of Patient Records
Oluwakemi Odukoya,Mustapha Jamda,Olanrewaju Onigbogi,Nkolika Uguru,Modupe Onigbogi,Funmilola James,Babalola Faseru,Scott Leischow,Olalekan Ayo-yusuf
Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2017;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Materials and Me...
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded289    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 3    

Recommend this journal