3 in 10 doctors don't advise smokers to vape

07 November 2018 07:27

Medics are unsure over vaping

Medics are unsure over vaping

Over a quarter of medical workers are still reluctant to recommend e-cigarettes to smokers despite being told to do so by health authorities, a new survey has revealed.

In a poll of 500 UK health workers, including GPs, cancer doctors and nurses, nearly three in 10 (29%) said they wouldn't recommend e-cigarettes to cancer patients who smoke.

This is despite Public Health England (PHE) previously backing the devices, saying that vaping is a useful aid for smokers trying to kick the habit.

In response to the survey, researchers said that health workers need more smoking cessation training and there needs to be better local resources to help medics advise their patients.

Lack of knowledge

The new survey, presented to the 2018 NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow, also found that more than half of those surveyed said they did not know enough about e-cigarettes to make recommendations to patients.

A quarter did not know whether e-cigarettes were less harmful than smoking.

Meanwhile 46% said their hospital or clinic did not have guidance on what advice they should give to patients about the use of e-cigarettes, with a further 45% saying they did not know if guidance existed.

Encouraged to quit

Dr Jo Brett, a senior research fellow in the faculty of health and life sciences at Oxford Brookes University, said that problems caused by smoking increase after cancer diagnosis so it is vital patients are encouraged to quit.

She said: "E-cigarettes are now the most popular intervention for smoking cessation in the UK. However, little is known about health professionals' knowledge and attitude towards e-cigarettes and whether they are endorsing use of e-cigarettes with cancer patients.

"These results suggest that there's a lack of clear policy on e-cigarettes at the local level.

"They also suggest a lack of awareness of existing evidence and national policy on e-cigarettes among doctors and nurses. This is coupled with a lack of time and inadequate training on smoking cessation in general, and specifically on e-cigarettes.

"Giving patients a clear message that they can reduce harm by switching from smoking to using e-cigarettes may help them cut down or quit smoking tobacco. This could help patients by reducing the risk of cancer recurrence, a second primary cancer or other complications."

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