A high proportion of doctors and other health care workers at tuberculosis (TB) clinics in the country of Georgia are current smokers and many do not encourage their patients to quit the habit, according to a study whose lead author is a researcher at Georgia State University School of Public Health.
[Photo: Dr. Matthew J. Magee]
Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of developing TB, with some researchers estimating that smoking doubles a person’s odds of contracting the disease. The country of Georgia has high rates of smoking and of TB. The authors recommended efforts to educate all health care workers in the country’s tuberculosis clinics, including doctors and nurses, about that connection, and to promote smoking cession interventions that could help their patients to quit.
The research findings are published in the article “Smoking behavior and beliefs about the impact of smoking on anti-tuberculosis treatment among health care workers,” published in The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. Dr. Matthew J. Magee, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, at Georgia State University is the lead author.
Researchers conducted a survey of health care workers at 11 TB treatment facilities across the country in 2014, with 431 people agreeing to participate. The study found that 13.7 percent of health care workers were smokers and 8.1 percent were past smokers. Nearly half of the male physicians reported they were current smokers.
Overall, nearly a quarter of the health care workers “erroneously believed that smoking does not impact TB treatment outcomes, and this belief was significantly more common among younger [health care workers],” the authors wrote. Doctors who identified themselves as current smokers were five times more likely to indicate that they didn’t think smoking had a negative impact on TB treatment.
In Georgia, a country of about 3.7 million people, about 55.5 percent of men and 4.8 percent of women smoke. The incidence rate of active TB in the country of Georgia is estimated to be 99 per 100,000 persons, substantially higher than the average incidence for the European region, according to the Global Tuberculosis Report 2016, published by the World Health Organization.
The co-authors of the paper are Dr. Lasha Darchia, Dr. Maia Kipiani, Dr. Tsira Chakhaia and Dr. Nestani Tukvadze of the National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Disease in Tbilisi, Georgia; Dr. Russell Kempker, Dr. Carla Berg and Dr. Henry M. Blumberg of Emory University.