Primary care provider attitudes are associated with smoking cessation counseling and referral

Lisa S. Meredith, Elizabeth M. Yano, Scot C. Hickey, Scott E. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Most primary care providers (PCPs) endorse the importance of smoking cessation, but counseling rates are low. We evaluated the consistency of PCP's attitudes toward smoking cessation counseling and corresponding smoking-cessation behaviors. Design: This was a postintervention analysis of a population-based sample from a group randomized controlled trial to improve adherence to smoking cessation guidelines. Setting: A total of 18 VA sites in Southwestern and Western United States participated. Participants: A total of 280 PCPs completed a survey at 12 months after the implementation of a smoking-cessation quality improvement (QI) program. Their patients also completed 12- (n = 1080) and 18-month (n = 924) follow-up surveys. Intervention: The quality improvement intervention included local priority setting, quality improvement plan development, implementation, and monitoring. Measurements and Main Results: PCPs at intervention sites were more likely to report counseling patients about smoking cessation (P = 0.04) but not referral. PCP attitude toward smoking-cessation counseling was strongly associated with reported counseling (P < 0.001) and with referral (P = 0.01). Other associations with counseling were the perceived barrier "patients are not interested in quitting" (P = 0.01) and fewer years in practice (P = 0.03); other associations with referral were specialty consultation (P < 0.0001) and the perceived barrier "referral not convenient" (P = 0.001) (negative association). PCP attitudes were associated with higher rates of counseling, referral, and program attendance. Conclusions: PCPs, regardless of intervention participation, had attitudes consistent with their reported smoking-cessation behaviors and more favorable attitudes were associated with higher rates of patient-reported smoking cessation behavior. Findings suggest that PCPs who endorse smoking-cessation counseling and referral may provide more treatment recommendations and have higher patient quit rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)929-934
Number of pages6
JournalMedical care
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Primary care provider
  • Quality improvement
  • Smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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