Quit Smoking, Your Kid Can’t Breathe

Tobacco cessation education for healthcare professionals helps them teach parents

(RxWiki News) Kids hospitalized for respiratory problems often live in homes where adults smoke. Can healthcare professionals make a difference by talking to parents about secondhand smoke?

A recent study tested the effectiveness of training healthcare professionals to talk to the parents of child respiratory patients about secondhand smoke exposure. The training was a three-hour web-based education program with online follow-up. The study’s findings showed that healthcare professionals were better prepared to educate parents about tobacco cessation and the risks of secondhand smoke.

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Judith Gordon, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona, led a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a web-based smoking cessation program.

Researchers experimented with a three-hour tobacco cessation intervention program with pediatric respiratory therapists, registered nurses and nurse practitioners.

The Web-Based Respiratory Education About Tobacco and Health (WeBREATHe) program was designed to teach healthcare professionals how to educate patients about tobacco and help them take steps towards quitting.

For the study, 215 healthcare professionals consisting of 40 respiratory therapists, 163 registered nurses and 12 nurse practitioners from two different children’s hospitals were split into two groups.

The first group participated in the three-hour WeBREATHe online course then used available online resources afterwards.

Members of the second group were delayed in their training. Both groups were assessed about their intervention efforts with patients at the start of the study, one week later, and three months after the study began.

At the start of the study, 95 percent of participants said they had received no training in tobacco cessation in the 12 months before the study.

After participating in the WeBREATHe program, healthcare professionals reported increased behavior in the following areas:

  • Advising parents about smoking cessation
  • Assessing risks of smoking
  • Assisting and arranging smoking cessation efforts for parents
  • Feeling a decrease in perceived barriers to training parents about smoking cessation
  • Feeling greater ability to successfully perform tobacco cessation interventions

Authors concluded, “The WeBREATHe program is the first evidence-based education program in tobacco cessation designed specifically for pediatric respiratory therapists, registered nurses and nurse practitioners. Engagement in WeBREATHe increased participants’ tobacco cessation-related behaviors.”

Authors said the study showed the WeBREATHe program to be effective. They said they will evaluate the WeBREATHe program in a larger trial with longer-term follow-up.

This study was published in January in Pediatrics. Funding came from The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
January 14, 2013