To explore the perceptions and practices of medical and radiation oncologists regarding smoking cessation care in oncology practice.
Members of the Medical Oncology Group of Australia (MOGA) and radiation oncologists from the Trans-Tasman Radiation Oncology Group (TROG) were invited by postal mail and email to complete an anonymous survey in hard copy or online.
Of 452 MOGA members, 189 (42%) completed a survey. Of 230 eligible TROG members, 106 (46%) completed a survey. Responses were received from all states; from both public (78%) and private practice; and from both metropolitan (76%) and regional/rural practice. More than 90% of respondents reported that they assessed smoking status always or most of the time at an initial appointment, less often at follow-up appointments. Less than 20% of respondents discussed cessation medications, referred patients for support or provided written materials for all or most smokers. In the case of advanced disease, an individualised approach to the patient was favoured. The initial consultation was the preferred time for providing assistance to quit smoking. While the overwhelming majority of respondents supported smoking cessation as an important part of cancer care, only 11% felt adequately trained regarding smoking cessation. More than 40% reported that oncologists should have advanced or specialised skills in smoking care. There was divided opinion regarding the likelihood that cessation would interact with patients’ ability to cope with treatment. More than two-thirds of respondents reported a lack of clinician time and patient resistance were barriers to cessation interventions. A preference for GP involvement was apparent.
Oncologists strongly support the importance of smoking cessation care in oncology. There is a need to: i) provide smoking cessation training for oncology providers and ii) develop, implement and evaluate care models which allow oncologists to play a well-supported advisory role in cessation care.