FRIDAY, Dec. 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Health care providers who treat adolescents are aware of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), but have moderately low levels of knowledge about them and comfort discussing their use, according to a study published online Dec. 10 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Jessica K. Peppers, M.P.H., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated health care providers' awareness of e-cigarettes and examined their comfort with and attitudes toward discussing e-cigarettes with teenage patients and their parents. Data were collected from an online survey completed by a statewide sample of 561 Minnesota health care providers (46 percent family medicine physicians, 20 percent pediatricians, and 34 percent nurse practitioners) who treat adolescents.
The researchers found that 92 percent of providers were aware of e-cigarettes, and 11 percent reported treating an adolescent who had used them. Patients, news stories, and advertisements were most frequently cited as sources of information about e-cigarettes, rather than professional sources. Providers had moderately low levels of knowledge about and comfort discussing e-cigarettes with adolescents and their parents, and expressed considerable concerns that e-cigarettes could lead to tobacco use. Family physicians reported knowing more about e-cigarettes and being more comfortable discussing their use with patients (P < 0.05) than pediatricians and nurse practitioners. Ninety-two percent of respondents reported wanting to learn more about e-cigarettes.
"Health care providers who treat adolescents may need to incorporate screening and counseling about e-cigarettes into routine preventive services, particularly if the prevalence of use continues to increase in this population," the authors write.