PAs lack reliable information on e-cigarettes

PAs need more reliable information on e-cigarettes to inform clinical decisions.
PAs need more reliable information on e-cigarettes to inform clinical decisions.

SAN ANTONIO – Physician assistants (PAs) do not have enough reliable information regarding e-cigarettes and their health effects to adequately inform clinical practice decisions, according to research presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA).

Despite a perceived lack of information regarding e-cigarettes, most PAs believed they are harmful to health, the presenters said. Nevertheless, most PAs reported that they did not always ask their patients about e-cigarette usage when taking their history.

The study included 162 participants from the New York State Society of Physician Assistants, aged 18 to 74. Participants were either a current PA (regardless of practice status) or a PA student with at least 6 months of clinical rotation experience.

Each participant answered a self-administered survey via email that included 28 questions on their opinions, knowledge, and education regarding e-cigarettes, as well as questions on participants' demographics and practice characteristics. The researchers used several 5-point Likert scale questions to assess attitudes about e-cigarettes. Familiarity was rated from 1 (“very unfamiliar”) to 5 (“very familiar”), and agreement was rated from 1 (“strongly disagree”) to 5 (“strongly agree”).

The mean rating of how familiar participants were with e-cigarettes was 3.4. The mean rating of agreement on various statements is summarized in the following table:

Statement Mean Rating

“The amount of reliable information on e-cigarette devices in general is sufficient enough to help me make clinical practice decisions.”

2.7

“The amount of reliable information on the health effects of e-cigarette devices in general is sufficient enough to help me make clinical practice decisions.”

2.4

“I believe the majority of my patient population has used an e-cigarette device at least once.”

2.5

“I believe the majority of my patient population uses e-cigarette devices on a daily basis.”

2.1


When asked if e-cigarettes are harmful to patient health, 69% responded ‘yes,' 28% were unsure, and 3% responded ‘no.' Most participants (60%) said that they never ask about e-cigarette usage while taking a patient history, with 26% responding that they sometimes ask, and 14% responding that they always ask. When asked if they believe that e-cigarettes are an effective means of quitting smoking, 55% said ‘no,' 25% were unsure, and 20% said ‘yes.'

“Our findings indicate that further evidence-based research and government regulation of e-cigarettes and e-flavors may guide practitioners in their discussion of these products with patients and their recommendation for use as tobacco cessation tools,” the researchers wrote.

Reference

  1. Green A, Kwiecien D, Mangal V, et al. An investigation of awareness & perception of e-cigarettes among PAs. ePoster presented at: 2016 annual meeting of the American Academy of PAs (AAPA); May 14-18, 2016; San Antonio, TX.
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