Changes in the smoking behaviour, knowledge and opinion of medical students, 1972–1981

Social Science & Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 02/1982; 16(24):2137-43. DOI: 10.1016/0277-9536(82)90263-5
Source: PubMed


To examine changes in medical students' smoking behaviour, knowledge and opinion over the last decade, a survey first conducted at the University of Manchester Medical School in 1972 was repeated in 1981. A postal questionnaire was sent to 1163 students, of whom 1112 (96%) replied. A substantial decline in cigarette smoking among medical students has occurred. This largely follows trends in the general population, medical education itself having made little contribution to the change. In 1972, 29% of students were cigarette smokers compared with 17% in 1981. The fall in cigarette smoking was more marked among men students rather than women, older rather than younger students, clinical rather than pre-clinical students. Cigarette consumption had also decreased as had the use of cigars and pipes among male students. The decline was already evident prior to students beginning their medical studies. A smaller expansion of smoking experience at medical school had occurred among the 1981 students, but, as in 1972, those who took up smoking or increased their consumption exceeded those who gave up or cut down. In 1981 the likelihood of taking up smoking or becoming a regular smoker at medical school was somewhat greater for women students than for men, although the numbers concerned were small. The survey reconfirmed the importance of the social environment in smoking behaviour. Modest changes had occurred in knowledge and opinion about smoking. Both the accuracy and scope of knowledge of students about the health hazards increased between 1972 and 1981, particularly among clinical students, who remained considerably better informed than their pre-clinical colleagues. As in 1972, knowledge had little impact on smoking behaviour. By 1981 nine out of ten students regarded smoking as a major risk to health, both clinical students and smokers being more likely to take this view than in 1972. Almost all students, irrespective of their smoking behaviour, found the evidence linking smoking to serious illness to some extent convincing, and by 1981 a somewhat greater proportion, 60%, found it very convincing, the tendency to do so increasing as they progressed through their course.

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    ABSTRACT: To examine their view of the doctor's role in relation to smoking and how it is influencedboth by their medical training and their own smoking behaviour, a postal questionnaire was sent to 1163 medical studients at Manchester University, of whom 1112 replied (96%). Only a small minority of students were themselves cigarette smokers (17%) but they were poorly informed about the smoking behaviour of their future profession. Nearly half were not aware that doctors are less likely to be smokers than the general public and only four in 10 were able to estimate accurately the proportion of cigarette smokers among teaching staff. Students were almost unanimously agreed that it was appropriate for a doctor to advise a pregnant woman, a chronic bronchitic or a patient with a history of myocardial infarction not to smoke, but only seven in 10 took this view about a healthy young man. Nevertheless, they increasingly saw the relevance of the preventive approach as they progressed through their education, although smokers were less likely to do so. The smoking behaviour of patients was seen to be an important concern for the doctor and this opinion, uninfluenced by their own smoking behaviour, grew stronger as students progressed through their course. However, they were more equivocal in their view of the implications of the professional role for private behaviour, particularly the smokers among them. Thus most students were aware of the potential influence of a doctor's smoking behaviour but just under two-thirds took the next step of accepting the professional responsibility to set a good example, and seven in 10 regarded it ultimately as a purely personal decision.
    No preview · Article · Feb 1983 · Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: A cross-sectional survey, using an anonymous self-administered questionnaire, was conducted among 364 medical and engineering students in their first and later years of study. The study compared knowledge, attitudes towards smoking, and smoking practices between the faculties and between the years. The prevalence of current smoking was 24.1%. It was similar in each faculty and in every year, despite greater knowledge on the adverse health effects of smoking among students in the higher years in the faculty of medicine. Greater knowledge of the risks of smoking is not sufficient to bring about a reduction in smoking habits.
    No preview · Article · Apr 1989 · Medical Education
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    Full-text · Article · Aug 1996 · BMJ Clinical Research
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