(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Less than one-fifth (18.1%) of healthcare providers reported high levels of confidence in their ability to counsel patients with cancer who smoke to quit smoking, a survey published in The Oncologist online February 14 has found.

These results suggest “outpatient oncology providers may not be using the ‘teachable moment’ of cancer diagnosis to provide smoking-cessation assistance,” the investigators noted. “Although beliefs about providing cessation services to patients who smoke were generally positive, few providers reported commonly providing interventions beyond advice to quit.”

Of the 74 physicians and midlevel providers surveyed, 82.4% frequently or always assessed smoking in new patients, but rates declined at subsequent visits. Rates of advising patients to quit smoking were also high, but <30% of providers reported frequently or always providing intervention to patients who smoked, and only 30% reported following up with patients to assess progress with quitting.

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Following a diagnosis of cancer, many patients continue to smoke, “increasing their risk for treatment complications, reduced treatment efficacy, secondary cancers, and reduced survival.” Additional training and clinic-based interventions may help improve adherence to tobacco-cessation practice guidelines in the outpatient oncology setting. The most important barrier to smoking cessation was a patient’s lack of motivation.

Abstract (registration required)