Prevalence of tobacco smoking among health-care physicians in Bahrain.
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BACKGROUND: There is a clear shift in smoking habits among the Middle Eastern population with a recent and alarming increase in the prevalence of waterpipe (shisha) smoking. This phenomenon has not yet been studied sufficiently across the physician population. Therefore, we set out to establish the smoking status of primary healthcare physicians in the kingdom of Bahrain.
METHODS: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to a random sample of 175 out of the total 320 primary care physicians. Descriptive analysis was performed on all data and associations between variables were tested using Fishers Exact t test with statistical significance set as P-value < 0.05.
RESULTS: One hundred and fifty two physicians agreed to participate in the study. Sixty seven percent of physicians were females and the mean (SD) age was 45 (10) years. The majority of the physicians were married (93%) and of Bahraini nationality (76%). Ever-smokers were 11% of the population while current smokers corresponded to 8.6%. Waterpipe was the most common method of tobacco smoking followed by cigarettes. Among male physicians, the prevalence of current 'waterpipe only' smokers was 12%, followed by 4% and 2% corresponding to 'cigarette only' smokers and both, respectively. There were only three female smokers in the population, two 'waterpipe only' smokers and one cigar smoker. Of those who smoked waterpipe (n = 9; 6%), 33% smoked daily, 44% smoked weekly and 22% smoked at least once a month. Current smoking status was associated with male gender (P
CONCLUSION: Waterpipe smoking rates exceeded cigarette smoking among the population of physicians in Bahrain. Prevalence of smoking remains unacceptably high among male physicians. Assessment of physicians' knowledge of the harmful effects of waterpipe tobacco smoking is warranted to plan future interventions.