With the emerging role of pharmacists in implementing smoking cessation services and the recent evidence about smoking cessation pharmacotherapies, a needs analysis to assess baseline knowledge about current smoking cessation practice is needed; hence, training and development in this area can target possible ‘gaps’.
This study aimed at exploring pharmacy students’ knowledge about and attitudes toward smoking cessation, as compared to practicing community pharmacists and smoking cessation educators. The overall objective was to uncover underlying ‘gaps’ in pharmacy-based smoking cessation practice, particularly clinical gaps.
Final-year pharmacy students at the University of Sydney, practicing community pharmacists and smoking cessation educators in Australia.
As no previous standard pharmacist-focused smoking cessation knowledge questionnaires exist, a review of the literature informed the development of such a questionnaire. The questionnaire was administered to a cohort of fourth-year pharmacy students at the University of Sydney, practicing pharmacists and smoking cessation educators. Data analysis was performed using Predictive Analytics SoftWare (PASW® Statistics 18). Mean total scores, independent t-tests, analysis of variances and exploratory factor analysis were performed.
Main outcome measure
To determine areas of major clinical deficits about current evidence related to smoking cessation interventions at the pharmacy level.
Responses from 250 students, 51 pharmacists and 20 educators were obtained. Smoking educators scored significantly higher than pharmacists and students (P < .05), while score differences in the latter two groups were not statistically significant (P > .05). All groups scored high on ‘general’ knowledge questions as compared to specialised pharmacologic and pharmacotherapeutic questions. All respondents demonstrated positive attitudes toward the implications of smoking cessation. Factor analysis of the 24-item knowledge section extracted 12 items loading on 5 factors accounting for 53% of the total variance.
The results provide a valid indication of ‘gaps’ in the practice of up-to-date smoking cessation services among Australian pharmacy professionals, particularly in clinical expertise areas involving assessment of nicotine dependence and indications, dosages, adverse effects, contraindications, drug interactions and combinations of available pharmacotherapies. These gaps should be addressed, and the results should inform the design, implementation and evaluation of a pharmacy-based educational training program targeting current clinical issues in smoking cessation.