Quit Smoking Support for Health Care Workers Needed
A team of researchers at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) has found that, while there has been a decline in
health care worker smoking rates, more needs to be done to address what remains a burden on the health system.
Ms Shona McLeod, of the School of Clinical Sciences at AUT, told the PHA Conference today that it’s important health
care workers are smokefree, both for their own health and for their ability to give quit smoking support to the people
they work with.
“Health care professionals who smoke are less likely to give stop-smoking advice. and they tend to rate the risks of
smoking lower than their non-smoking colleagues,” Ms McLeod said.
“Quitting interventions by non-smoking health professionals are also more effective than those provided by health care
professionals who smoke, so another issue is that it contributes to inequality among their patients.”
The team compared smoking status data for health care professionals from the 2006 census with similar data from the 2013
census. It found that, though smoking rates for health care professionals were lower than those of the general
population in both censuses, they still remain significant.
In 2006, 21 percent of New Zealanders were smokers. That had fallen by a quarter to 15 percent in 2013.
The team found overall smoking rates were highest among midwifery and nursing professionals (14 percent in 2006 and 8
percent in 2013). Within this group mental health nurses were more likely to be smokers, as were Maori nurses.
Sixteen percent of Maori health care professionals still smoked in 2013 compared to 6 percent of all health care
workers. Three percent of medical practitioners smoked in 2006. That had fallen to 2 percent in 2013.
“Though smoking rates for health care workers have fallen, it’s particularly important that ongoing efforts are made to
support smoking cessation among health care workers,” Ms McLeod said.
“If we are to meet the 2025 goal, we need to have a smokefree health care workforce – both for the follow-on effect they
have with the people they care for, and for the sake of their own health.”
Ms McLeod encouraged health care workers who smoked to make use of whatever stop-smoking support was available to them,
and for them to talk with other health care professionals who had quit smoking.