What Factors Need to be Addressed to Support Dental Hygienists to Assist Their Patients to Quit Smoking?
Roche, Ann Marie
Pidd, Kenneth John
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Dental hygienists are well placed to assist their patients to quit smoking. Smoking affects oral health and dental treatments, and hygienists report greater time with patients than dentists with more focus on prevention. However, there has been little research into the extent to which hygienists assist patients to quit smoking, and strategies to support them in this role. Methods. A two stage survey of Australian dental hygienists was conducted. The first survey measured potential predictors of asking patients about smoking and assisting patients to quit smoking using the Theory of Planned Behaviour as a framework. The second survey measured these behaviours in the past week. Structural equation modelling was used to examine predictors of the two behaviours. Results. A total of 362 hygienists returned the first questionnaire. Intentions to ask and assist patients were high. The 273 hygienists who returned the second questionnaire assisted an estimated total of 1,394 patients to quit smoking in one week. Predictors within the Theory of Planned Behaviour framework explained significant variance in asking (11%) and assisting (29%) behaviours, with self-efficacy the most critical predictor in both cases (β =.27, .32 respectively). Conclusions. Dental hygienists may be a viable and willing avenue for addressing smoking. Hygienists may be best supported in this role through increasing skills and confidence around asking sensitively about smoking, building rapport, and assisting patients to quit smoking. . Incorporation of smoking status into general history taking and adoption of organisational policies on assisting patients to quit smoking could also be encouraged.