Patient Perspectives on Discussions of Electronic Cigarettes in Primary Care

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Patient preferences regarding the role of the primary care provider (PCP) in discussing electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use are unknown.


We administered a cross-sectional survey to 568 adult patients in a family medicine clinic to explore e-cigarette use, sources of information on e-cigarettes, perceived knowledge about e-cigarette health effects, views regarding PCP knowledge of e-cigarettes, interest in discussing e-cigarettes with PCPs and preferred format for e-cigarette information. We performed χ2 testing with a 2-tailedP< .05 to assess associations between e-cigarette use and these measures.


The prevalence of e-cigarette use was 10% for recent (≤30 days) use and 29% for nonrecent (>30 days) use. Prevalence was significantly higher among those who were younger, less educated, or smoked cigarettes, but did not vary by sex or self-reported health status. Roughly one quarter of participants believed they were knowledgeable about the health effects of e-cigarettes, secondhand smoke, and quitting cigarettes. Sources of e-cigarette information included television advertisements (56.6%), friends and family (49.9%), or e-cigarette shops (25.5%), but included physician offices much less frequently (6.0%). Although 30.2% disagreed that their PCP knew a lot about e-cigarettes, 62.0% were comfortable discussing e-cigarettes with their PCP. However, only 25% of all patients wanted their PCP to discuss e-cigarettes with them, but 62.0% of recent e-cigarette users wanted such a discussion. Most preferred a brief discussion or handout to a lengthy discussion.


PCPs were infrequent sources of information for patients regarding e-cigarette use. PCPs need evidence-based strategies to help them address e-cigarettes in primary care.

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