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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Georgia State Studies Prevalence of Smoking among Health Care Workers

The majority of health care workers who smoke are young, less educated, lower paid and without health insurance, according to a recent study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.

shanta dube

[Photo: Dr. Shanta Dube]

The study also noted a surprising element—the majority of health care workers who smoke are women.

“This differs from the U.S. working population, where men had higher smoking prevalences than women,” said the researchers, who included Dr. Shanta Dube, associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Public Health at Georgia State.

The report, titled “Cigarette Smoking Prevalence Among Adults Working in the Health Care and Social Assistance Sector, 2008 to 2012,” was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

One possible explanation for the large percentage of female health care workers who smoke is that more women are employed in the lower paid tiers of the health care system, the study said. About 80 percent of the 18.9 million health care workers studied were women. Nearly a third had no health insurance and 20 percent had less than a high school education.

The study also noted that health care providers are role models for promoting healthy lifestyles, and if they smoke, they may be less likely to provide consistent cessation services to their patients.

The study’s other authors were Drs. Girija Syamlal, Jacek Mazurek and Eileen Storey with the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Respiratory Disease Studies.