New research shows that few health care providers have adequate training to guide patients through the smoking cessation process. Researchers suggest that this lack of training may affect quit rates among smokers.

The study, presented at CHEST 2008, the 74th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), found that 87% of physicians and other medical professionals receive fewer than 5 hours of training on tobacco dependence. Additionally, less than 6% of those surveyed knew Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) treatment guidelines for tobacco dependence, including signs of nicotine withdrawal.

“If healthcare providers are unaware of the AHRQ guidelines for tobacco dependence, and consequently unsure of how to treat their patients who are tobacco-dependent, they are less likely to do more than ask and advise their patients to quit,” says lead researcher, Virginia Reichert, NP.

The researchers from North-Shore-LIJ center for Tobacco Control surveyed 600 health care providers. Survey questions focused on prevalence of smoking, tobacco treatment guidelines, cessation pharmacotherapy, interaction of nicotine with other drugs, and symptoms and implications of nicotine withdrawal.