Study objectives: (1) To examine attitudes of respiratory care practitioners (RCPs) and RCP students toward pulmonary disease prevention behaviors and their role in promoting them. (2) To compare RCPs' attitudes regarding pulmonary prevention with existing medical student survey data.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Setting: Three sites (Valhalla, NY; Winston-Salem, NC; Houston, TX).
Participants: One hundred ninety RCPs and 164 RCP students compared with 5,744 medical students.
Measurement and results: Subjects completed a 35-item RCP Preventive Pulmonary Attitude (PPA) Survey using a five-point scale (1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree). Ahigher score indicates a more positive attitude toward prevention. RCP total scores averaged 117.6 (SD, 15.7; range, 52 to 160). RCP student total scores were significantly higher than RCP practitioners. No significant differences were observed by gender or by type of patient served (pediatric vs adult). RCPs with a history of tobacco smoking had significantly lower scores than RCPs who had never smoked. Most, but not all, respondents acknowledged the importance of patients with chronic lung disease receiving a yearly influenza vaccination. Total PPA scores for medical students were significantly lower than scores for both RCPs and RCP students. Significant differences were noted for a number of individual items.
Conclusions: In general, RCPs had positive attitudes regarding the importance of prevention counseling and their role in providing this to patients. This is important given their potential as a resource in pulmonary prevention efforts. More attention to inclusion of training and evaluation of RCP effectiveness in promoting respiratory health is needed.