Smoking, attitudes to smoking and provision of smoking cessation advice in two teaching hospitals in Ireland: do smoke-free policies matter?
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Brief cessation advice from health-care professionals in the hospital setting significantly increases the likelihood of patients quitting smoking, yet patients are not routinely provided with this advice. Smoke-free hospital policies aim to protect individuals from the adverse effects of smoking; however, it is unclear if such policies encourage systematic delivery of cessation advice by health-care professionals. The study’s aim was to determine the prevalence of smoking and cessation advice received by in-patients in two teaching hospitals in Ireland which have implemented smoke-free hospital policies, and to examine patient attitudes towards smoking cessation. Change in smoking prevalence and delivery of smoking cessation advice prior to and post-policy implementation was also examined in one hospital. This study surveyed 466 in-patients across 2 hospital sites, over a 3-week and 5- week period, respectively. Data were also compared to a survey completed prior to the implementation of the smoke-free policy in one of the hospital sites. Smoking prevalence was 17% in Beaumont Hospital and 28% in Connolly Hospital. Overall, nicotine dependence was low (Mean Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence = 4.21, ±2.9). Overall, 62% of smokers did not receive smoking cessation advice from a health professional, although 55% indicated a willingness to engage with this type of service. The before-and-after analysis of Beaumont Hospital showed a reduction in smoking prevalence (17% vs 21%) amongst hospital in-patients, and a 6% increase in reported cessation advice provided following the introduction of the hospital smoke-free policy. Smoke-free hospital policies play a role in decreasing the prevalence of in-patient smokers, but further intervention is needed to increase rates of cessation advice provided. Positive attitudes to smoking cessation, coupled with low average nicotine dependence, suggest that lowintensity interventions would be beneficial for most smokers. A systematic focus on provision of brief smoking cessation advice is needed in hospitals.