Introduction and objectives Two million children in the UK are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS) in the home and many more are exposed in other settings. The consequences of this are well recognised and include higher incidences of: numerous acute illnesses; hospital admissions; school absences and increased smoking rates in later life. Together these result in significant costs to the NHS and wider economy.
Barriers to improved practice have been reported in other professional groups in the UK and in Child Health Doctors and Nurses in other countries. We could find no previously published data from the UK on this topic with which to inform and improve our own staff training and support.
Methods An electronic questionnaire was developed, covering beliefs, knowledge and current practice. The survey was distributed through professional groups, training and healthcare delivery organisations.
Results 140 responses were received, from Consultants (22%), trainee Paediatricians (32%), Nurses (34%) and others (11%), including Physiotherapists, Pharmacists, Healthcare Assistants and Play Therapists. Respondents came from 19/21 UK regions.
Respondents believe it is important to support smoking cessation for the parents of their patients but are likely to perceive the barriers to this as arising from the smokers more than from deficiencies in their own knowledge and skills (see Table 1). However, we identified significant knowledge gaps. When asked if 7 facts about SHS and cessation were true or false, incorrect answers ranged from 2–41% and ‘don’t know’ from 10–46%. Only 41% knew how to make a referral to their local cessation service. 63% of respondents last had training about smoking cessation more than 5 years ago.
Conclusions Our findings show that Child Health Professionals’ beliefs about the impact of smoking and the importance of smoking cessation are not borne out in their practice. This is likely to be due to a lack of knowledge and training, despite the existence of high quality and easily accessible national resources.1 We believe that every Child Health organisation should appoint smoking cessation champions who can build links with local specialist services in order to promote training and good practice among their colleagues.
National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT). http://www.ncsct.co.uk