Doctors’ advice to their patients about smoking 2004

Germain D 

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 26

In 2004, almost three-quarters (73%) of Victorian adults, who were either current smokers or who had quit within the past 12 months, were asked by their GP whether they smoked. Of those that were smoking at the time, two-thirds (66%) had discussed with their GP at least one way to quit smoking.

Smokers aged 30-49 years (75%) and those who smoked 15 cigarettes per day or more (medium and heavy smokers) (76% and 77%, respectively) were most likely to be given advice on ways to quit smoking by their GP. 

Respondents were most likely to be recommended to cut down their smoking (57% of respondents) and also given information regarding the use of NRT (30%), followed by ‘other advice' (21%).  Advice to call the Quitline was reported by 13% of respondents.

Smokers who received advice from their GP were more likely to have made at least one quit attempt (87%) compared with those who had not received quitting advice (76%).  Respondents who received advice were also more motivated to quit, with over half (60%) reporting they were seriously considering quitting in the next 6 months, compared with those who hadn't received advice (47%).

Overall, findings suggest that the majority of GPs are enquiring about patients' smoking status, and that receiving quitting advice is related to having made at least one quit attempt, and increased motivation to quit smoking.