Healthy Tip Tuesday – Why pediatricians have the power to encourage parents to stop smoking

(U.S.) – Parent smokers said they would be more motivated to begin treatment to stop smoking if given a message from their pediatrician.

Healthy Tip Tuesday is brought to you by Trinity Hospital Twin City.

Parents explained the impact of messages that emphasized the impact of their smoking on their child’s health rather than the impact on their own health, according a study in the July 2020 Pediatrics.

The study,Parent Preferences for Pediatric Clinician Messaging to Promote Smoking Cessation Treatment” (published online June 22), asked 180 parent smokers to rate the relative importance of 26 different messages designed to encourage them to begin cessation treatment.

Parent smokers identified smoking cessation messages that emphasized the impact on their child, with outcomes focused on respiratory health, cancer, or general health, as most important. The most preferred message was, “Quitting smoking will improve your child’s health by preventing respiratory illnesses like coughs, colds, and wheezing.” Study participants were recruited through four outpatient primary care practices as part of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Pediatric Research Consortium.

The authors found that messages that focused on health outcomes — in particular respiratory illnesses or cancer — were more important to parent smokers than messages incorporating financial impacts. This finding contrasts with emerging evidence that adult smokers prefer financial-based messages over health-focused messages in promoting smoking cessation.

The authors suggest future studies to identify the best methods to deliver these messages to parent smokers, either through clinical practice or additional outreach approaches, and evaluate their impact on parent quit rates.

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