HealthDay News — Healthcare providers who treat adolescents are aware of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), but have moderately low levels of knowledge about them and comfort discussing their use, according to a study published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Jessica K. Peppers, MPH, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated healthcare providers’ awareness of e-cigarettes and examined their comfort with and attitudes toward discussing e-cigarettes with teenage patients and their parents.

Data were collected from an online survey completed by a statewide sample of 561 Minnesota health care providers (46% family medicine physicians, 20% pediatricians and 34% nurse practitioners) who treat adolescents.

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The researchers found that 92% of providers were aware of e-cigarettes, and 11% reported treating an adolescent who had used them. Patients, news stories and advertisements were most frequently cited as sources of information about e-cigarettes, rather than professional sources.

Providers had moderately low levels of knowledge about and comfort discussing e-cigarettes with adolescents and their parents, and expressed considerable concerns that e-cigarettes could lead to tobacco use.

Family physicians reported knowing more about e-cigarettes and being more comfortable discussing their use with patients (P< 0.05) than pediatricians and nurse practitioners. Ninety-two percent of respondents reported wanting to learn more about e-cigarettes.

“Health care providers who treat adolescents may need to incorporate screening and counseling about e-cigarettes into routine preventive services, particularly if the prevalence of use continues to increase in this population,” the researchers wrote.


  1. Pepper JK et al. J Adolesc Health. 2013; doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.10.001.