Attitudes of Patients Toward Smoking by Health Professionals

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Do the smoking behaviors of physicians and nurses affect patients' perceptions of the trust and effectiveness of these health professionals? In this exploratory study, a 40-item questionnaire was given to patients discharged from an Air Force hospital during a 4-week period. The survey resulted in 116 usable questionnaires from 40 patients who had never smoked, 44 who no longer smoked and 32 who still smoked. Analyses of variance in the replies to the questionnaire indicated that nonsmokers felt strongly about health professionals not modeling unhealthy behaviors, while smokers indicated they had no opinion. Regarding the relationship between the smoking habits of physicians and nurses and patients' perceptions of trust and effectiveness, smokers felt strongly there was no relationship, whereas nonsmokers indicated no opinion. A review of the literature suggested that, on the average, health professionals who smoke may not be as effective in counseling patients to quit smoking as health professionals who do not smoke. Health professionals who smoke have the potential to affect unintentionally the smoking behaviors of others through modeling.