Connecting parents to telephone smoking counseling is worth a try!

June 1, 2006

According to the findings of a national random-digit-dial telephone survey, most parents who smoke would enroll in a telephone smoking cessation program if their child's doctor offered enrollment in such a program during a health-care visit.

According to the findings of a national random-digit-dial telephone survey, most parents who smoke would enroll in a telephone smoking cessation program if their child's doctor offered enrollment in such a program during a health-care visit.

Interviewers of a representative sample of US adults determined whether children's physicians screened parents about their tobacco use and their child's exposure to smoke. Interviewers asked parents who had accompanied their child to a pediatrician or family practitioner in the past year if the provider asked about who in the household smokes; about their rules for allowing smoke in the house and car; and if they know the dangers of secondhand smoke. For a participant who was a current smoker, the interviewer also asked if the physician discussed the increased risk that children of smokers will become smokers; advised them to quit smoking; recommended medication to help them stop smoking; prescribed medication to help them stop smoking; referred them for additional services related to smoking, such as a quitline; or enrolled them in any of these services.

Of 958 parents surveyed, 187 (20%) smoked and, of those, 122 (65%) saw a child health-care clinician during the preceding year. The rates of physician screening for smoking control practices among the 688 parents (smokers and nonsmokers) who accompanied the child to the health-care visits were low-48% for tobacco use, 34% for rules that prohibit smoking in the home, and 27% for rules prohibiting smoking in the car. Among smokers in this group, screening rates were similarly low: Only 39% were advised by the physician to quit; 12% were recommended a medication to help them quit; 7% were actually prescribed such a medication; and only 11 (9%) received counseling recommendations. Yet, of the 187 parental smokers, 113 (64.2%) said they would accept enrollment in a telephone cessation program if the child's physician offered it. These results did not vary with parents' age, gender, or race, or the age of the child (Winickoff JP et al: Pediatrics 2006;117:e695).