Characteristics and predictors of readiness to quit among emergency medical patients presenting with respiratory symptoms

Beth C. Bock, Ernestine Jennings, Bruce M. Becker, Robert Partridge, Raymond S. Niaura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To examine behavioral factors that lead patients to consider quitting smoking and features associated with readiness to quit among adults who are seeking treatment in the emergency department (ED) for respiratory symptoms. Methods: A toal of 665 adult smokers seeking treatment in an ED for respiratory symptoms and respiratory illness answered survey questions during the ED visit. Results: Patients self-reported "readiness to quit" was broadly distributed among this patient population. Patients with COPD, pneumonia or asthma perceived higher risks from smoking than other patients with respiratory complaints. Over half of all participants had scores indicative of depression. Regression analysis showed that prior efforts to quit, confidence, perceived importance of quitting and decisional balance were each significantly predictive of readiness to quit, accounting for 40% of the variance. Conclusions: While many of these patients appear unaware of the connection between their symptoms and their smoking, patients with diagnosed chronic respiratory illness perceived higher risks from their smoking. In patients who do not perceive these risks, physician intervention may increase perceived risk from smoking and perceived importance of quitting. Interventions designed for the ED setting targeting this patient population should consider screening for depressive symptoms and, when appropriate, making referrals for further evaluation and/or treatment. Medications that can help alleviate depression and withdrawal symptoms while quitting smoking, such as bupropion, may be particularly useful for this subset of patients, as depression is a substantial barrier to quitting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24
JournalInternational Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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