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Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 00:04 GMT
Medical schools 'ignoring smoking'
Teenagers smoking
There are 13 million smokers in the UK
Trainee doctors are missing out on education that could help patients give up smoking, says a study.

Only 17% of UK medical schools offer formal training on smoking-related issues, according to researchers.

Four out of ten make no mention of smoking or interventions to help someone quit in their published curriculums.


Our concern is that doctors are qualifying from medical school unable to provide basic smoking cessation interventions

Dr Elin Jones
Nottingham University
There are 13 million smokers in the UK and the annual cost to the NHS from smoking related diseases is put at 1.4bn.

Co-author of the research, Professor John Britton, said: "This study shows that smoking, which is the single most important avoidable cause of death and disability in the UK, receives far too little emphasis in undergraduate medical training.

"It's time for UK medical schools to wake up to the fact that nicotine addiction is a major medical problem and teach their students to deal with it."

Training concerns

The survey of the 23 medical schools in Britain which offer undergraduate training was carried out by researchers at the University of Nottingham.

It was based on an analysis of medical school prospectuses, electronic curriculums and other learning resources.

Forty percent made no reference to the teaching of smoking and smoking cessation suggesting it is not a high priority, said clinical research fellow Dr Elin Jones.

She told BBC News Online: "Our concern is that doctors are qualifying from medical school unable to provide basic smoking cessation interventions."

'Risk behaviour'

Clive Bates, director of the campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health, said smoking ought to be recognised in medical schools and the NHS as an illness in its own right.

He told BBC News Online: "Given that it's a prime driver of major illness, it's given scant and incidental attention by most medical schools.

"Smoking is treated as a risk behaviour rather than an illness in its own right."

The Nottingham team plans to carry out a larger study to work out ways to improve the training offered to medical students.

The research was presented at the British Thoracic Society's Winter Meeting in London.


Click here to go to Nottingham
See also:

10 Oct 02 | Health
31 May 00 | Asia-Pacific
07 Jan 00 | South Asia
05 Oct 01 | Americas
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