“It’s on Everyone’s Plate”: A Qualitative Study into Physicians’ Perceptions of Responsibility for Smoking Cessation
Little research has investigated in-depth how physicians perceive their role in smoking cessation care. This qualitative study sought to understand physicians’ perceptions of responsibility for smoking cessation.
Data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews between June and November 2017 in The Netherlands. We interviewed 5 addiction specialists, 5 anesthesiologist, 4 cardiologists, 8 GPs, 5 internists, 5 neurologists, 2 pediatricians, 6 pulmonologists, 7 surgeons, and 8 youth healthcare physicians (N = 55). Data analysis followed the framework approach.
The analysis showed that three actors were perceived as responsible for smoking cessation: physicians, patients, and the government. Participants perceived physicians as responsible for facilitating smoking cessation -albeit to different extents-, patients as carrying the ultimate responsibility for quitting smoking, and the government as responsible for creating a society in which smoking uptake is more difficult and quitting smoking easier. Perceptions of smoking itself were found to be important for how participants viewed responsibility for smoking cessation. It remained unclear for many participants which healthcare provider is responsible for smoking cessation care.
The organization of smoking cessation care within health systems should be a focus of intervention, to better define physician roles and perceptions of responsibility. In addition, it seems important to target perceptions of smoking itself on the level of physicians and –as suggested by comments by several participants- the government.