As a chronic condition, smoking is undertreated

YALE (US) — Smoking is drastically undertreated compared to hypertension, diabetes, or asthma, and should be considered a chronic disease, experts say.

A recent study reveals physicians are failing to treat tobacco use, despite the fact that it is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

The findings suggest smokers are important candidates for treatment interventions, including behavioral counseling and medication.


Analysis of the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data from 2005 to 2007 showed that only 4.4 percent of tobacco users were prescribed medication during their visit, compared to 57.4 percent of hypertensive patients, 46.2 percent of diabetics, and 42.6 percent of patients with asthma.

“A compelling argument has been made that tobacco use should be reframed as a chronic disease and treated as other chronic conditions such as diabetes,” says Steven L. Bernstein, associate professor of emergency medicine at Yale University and lead author of the paper. “Our study suggests that this has not occurred.”

Researchers point to opportunities for improvement that include more insurance coverage for cessation products and improved training for medical students and residents.

Results of the study, conducted with researchers at Harvard University, are published in advance online in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study was funded by Yale’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

Source: Yale University

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