Ophthalmologists should encourage smoking cessation

April 1, 2008

There is a need to introduce smoking cessation support into routine ophthalmic practice, according to a report published in the February issue of Eye.

There is a need to introduce smoking cessation support into routine ophthalmic practice, according to a report published in the February issue of Eye.

Simon Kelly and colleagues from the Royal Bolton Hospital, the University of Manchester, Bury Primary Care Trust, UK and the University of Otago, New Zealand conducted a cross-sectional survey using a postal questionnaire of all UK NHS hospital-based consultant ophthalmologists. The questionnaire looked at whether ophthalmologists identify the smoking status of their patients, advise about the increased risk of eye disease amongst smokers and whether they deliver smoking cessation advice. The availability of departmental smoking cessation resources was also ascertained.

Of the 886 ophthalmologists contacted, 485 responded (55%) and of the respondents, 79% were male. Only 35% of respondents asked about smoking status every time or most times for new patients and 5% for follow-up patients. Around 40% claimed to always or usually advise patients to give up smoking and 61% claimed to always or usually mention eye disease as a reason to quit. Just 14% assessed motivation to give up and 22% provide advice and assistance. Female ophthalmologists were more likely to undertake most aspects of smoking assessment and intervention. Only 18% of respondents stated that their department provides information about smoking for patients and 6% said that support is available for patients wanting to give up.

The results of this questionnaire indicate that smoking cessation support is not encouraged enough and should be routine in hospital-based ophthalmic departments.