Children's hospitalization may be good time to talk about smoking cessation with parents

October 01, 2001

Parents who smoke around their child may be receptive to cessation counseling when they bring their child to the hospital for medical attention, according to a new study in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

"Parents who smoke endanger themselves, put their children and spouses at risk for adverse health outcomes and increase the chance that their children will become smokers," says lead author Jonathan P. Winickoff, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Three-fourths of the parents interviewed at Boston Children's Hospital said they would be willing to speak with a counselor about quitting smoking, and most of those parents said they would willing to enroll in a free cessation program conducted over the phone.

Although many of the parents had made attempts to quit before, only 15 percent had ever participated in a smoking cessation program and only 31 percent had ever used a pharmaceutical cessation aid.

"A large majority of parents are willing to address their smoking behavior at the time that a child is hospitalized," the investigators say.

Winickoff and his associates found that parents' willingness to talk about smoking cessation "did not vary by parent's gender, ethnicity, level of education, readiness to stop smoking or by a child's diagnosis, indicating the broad appeal of this type of approach."

However, they did find that parents were less inclined to take part in a cessation program that required them to return to the hospital after their child was discharged.

The study enrolled 62 smoking parents from 53 households. The age of the children ranged from 3 days to 24 years, and half were under 1 year old.
The study was supported by funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and a Midcareer Investigator Award in Patient-Oriented Research.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, sponsored by the Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine and the American College of Preventive Medicine, is published eight times a year by Elsevier Science. The Journal is a forum for the communication of information, knowledge and wisdom in prevention science, education, practice and policy. For more information about the Journal, contact the editorial office at 619-594-7344.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health For more research news and information, go to our special section devoted to health and behavior in the "Peer-Reviewed Journals" area of Eurekalert!, For information about the Center, call Ira Allen, 202-387-2829.

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