Although 86% of physicians surveyed reported routinely screening adolescent patients for cigarette smoking, only 14% routinely screened for electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use; in fact, only 34% of physicians reported having ever discussed e-cigarettes during an adolescent’s visit, a survey-based study revealed.

As reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Jessica K. Pepper, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and her associates emailed invitations to complete a brief survey to 2,368 U.S. physician panel members with pediatric or family medicine specialties, of whom 776 (53% pediatricians, 47% family medicine physicians) were eligible and completed the survey.

Family medicine physicians had higher odds of engaging in prevention of e-cigarette use than pediatricians (26% vs. 18%; adjusted odds ratio, 1.57). Among the 34% of physicians who had conversations on e-cigarettes with adolescents during a clinical encounter, the most frequent topics of conversation were the potential health harms of using e-cigarettes (77%), discussions on not starting to use e-cigarettes (65%), whether e-cigarette use helps smokers quit (49%), and whether using e-cigarettes leads to smoking (42%). Also of note, 40% of physicians said they would, if asked, tell their patients that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, and 24% would recommend e-cigarettes to adolescents for smoking cessation.

“The results of the present study suggest a need to improve routine screening and counseling for e-cigarette use among adolescents, and provide educational resources to physicians. Incorporating e-cigarettes into existing practice guidelines about tobacco use could boost prevention efforts and possibly prevent recommendation of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools for adolescents until there is conclusive evidence among youth,” the authors wrote.

Read the full article at the Journal of Adolescent Health .


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