PURPOSE: Despite public measures and laws to discourage smoking, it is unclear to what degree hospitals pursue offering smoking cessation programs to their general public. Our aim was to document the incidence of these smoking cessation programs available to the local constituencies of the hospitals. We compare this current incidence with that found eleven years ago among the same hospitals. Since smokers are dis-proportionally represented in lower economic classes, they are more reliant on "lower-tech" methods of accessing health care, such as via phone referrals.
METHODS: A national list of hospitals was utilized. Randomly selected hospitals from this list had been called eleven years ago and the main hospital switchboard was asked for the "stop smoking clinic." These same hospitals were again called in 2011, and asked for the stop smoking clinic.
RESULTS: Of the same original twenty-eight hospitals from 2000 which were re-called in 2011, only 20 were reached in 2011, since eight phone numbers had been disconnected in the interim. Of the twenty successfully reached, seven had smoking cessation programs available. Of these seven, three were not in-house programs, but instead were 1-800 quitline phone numbers. This total number of seven was only 50% as high as seen in 2000 with the same hospitals.
CONCLUSIONS: In 2011, the number of surveyed hospitals with smoking cessation programs available to the public through calling the switchboard was only 35 percent. This is 50% lower than seen in the same hospital population in 2000.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Hospitals are used as a source of public health information by their communities. In 2011, only 35% demonstrated easy access for their public to smoking cessation in this sample. This represents a 50% decline compared to the same hospital sample in 2000. Despite technological advancements, hospitals in this sample are doing worse in offering smoking cessation to their constituents. This represents a large opportunity for hospitals to better serve their surrounding populations in smoking cessation.
DISCLOSURE: The following authors have nothing to disclose: John Denny, Sharon Morgan, Julia Denny
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