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Prevalence of tobacco use and perceptions of student health professionals about cessation training: results from Global Health Professions Students Survey
  1. Chandrashekhar T Sreeramareddy1,
  2. N Ramakrishnareddy2,
  3. Mahbubur Rahman3,
  4. Imtiyaz Ali Mir4
  1. 1 Department of Community Medicine, International Medical University, Bukit Jalil, Malaysia
  2. 2 Department of Community Medicine, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Fort, Bangalore, India
  3. 3 Disease Control & Research (IEDCR), Institute of Epidemiology, Dhaka, Mohakali, Bangladesh
  4. 4 Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Bandar Sungai Long, Selangor, Malaysia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Chandrashekhar T Sreeramareddy; chandrashekharats{at}


Introduction Health professionals play an important role in providing advice to their patients about tobacco prevention and cessation. Health professionals who use tobacco may be deterred from providing cessation advice and counselling to their patients. We aimed to provide prevalence estimates of tobacco use among student health professionals and describe their attitudes towards tobacco cessation training.

Methods Country-wise aggregate data from the Global Health Professions Student Survey on ‘current cigarette smoking’ (smoking cigarettes on 1 or more days during the past 30 days), and ‘current use of tobacco products other than cigarettes’ (chewing tobacco, snuff, bidis, cigars or pipes, 1 or more days during the past 30 days) were analysed. For each WHO region, we estimated mean prevalence rates of tobacco use weighted by the population of the sampling frame and aggregate proportions for ‘health professionals’ role’ and ‘cessation training’ indicators using ‘metaprop’ command on Stata V.11.

Results A total of 107 527 student health professionals participated in 236 surveys done in four health profession disciplines spanning 70 countries with response rates ranging from 40% to 100%. Overall, prevalence of smoking was highest in European countries (20% medical and 40% dental students) and the Americas (13% pharmacy to 23% dental students). Other tobacco use was higher in eastern Mediterranean (10%–23%) and European countries (7%–13%). In most WHO regions, ≥70% of the students agreed that health professionals are role models, and have a role in advising about smoking cessation to their patients and the public. Only ≤33% of all student health professionals in most WHO regions (except 80% dental students in the Eastern Mediterranean region) had received formal training on smoking cessation approaches and ≥80% of all students agreed that they should receive formal cessation training.

Conclusions Tobacco control should take place together with medical educators to discourage tobacco use among student health professionals and implement an integrated smoking cessation training into health professions' curricula.

  • tobacco use
  • smoking cessation
  • medical education
  • health professionals

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  • Contributors CTS and NR designed the study, with inputs from two other coauthors. IAM and MR managed data extraction, CTS analysed the data and IAM and MR interpreted the findings, with inputs from all other authors. CTS and NR co-drafted the manuscript, with critical feedback from IAM and MR. All authors approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Extra data can be accessed via the Dryad data repository at Dryad doi: 10.5061/dryad.5sq0q18.

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