Adolescent reports of physician counseling for smoking.


OBJECTIVE: Physicians can play an important role in reducing adolescent smoking by counseling their adolescent patients. The appropriate delivery of smoking prevention and cessation messages depends on adequate screening of adolescents, identification of smokers, and adolescents' willingness to disclose their smoking. The present study assessed adolescent reports of physician screening and counseling and adolescents' willingness to disclose smoking, as well as demographic and health status differences in these rates. METHODS: Adolescents (n = 5016), ages 16 to 19, completed a survey on smoking and health. Reports of the prevalence of physician screening, counseling, and adolescents' willingness to disclose their smoking were examined, and logistic regression analyses assessed demographic and health status differences in these prevalence estimates. RESULTS: Overall, 43.4% of the sample reported physician screening, 42.1% reported receiving counseling, and only 28.8% of adolescents reported both. Furthermore, 79.3% of smokers reported that they would admit their smoking if asked. Screening, counseling, and disclosure rates differed by gender, neighborhood income level, smoking status, and asthma status. CONCLUSIONS: More intensive provider-delivered intervention is needed. Efforts should focus on helping providers to identify smoking correctly and to communicate appropriate prevention or cessation messages. Persistence and sensitivity with boys, experimental smokers, and youths with chronic health conditions should be a focus of provider training, because the lower willingness of these youths to disclose their smoking may be a barrier to their identification and intervention.

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