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Many Doctors Don't Ask Teens About Smoking

Researchers say a golden opportunity is being missed

THURSDAY, June 24, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Many doctors fail to find out if their teenage patients are smoking, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers.

The team found that 55 percent of adolescents seeing a doctor over a two-year period were asked about their smoking status. Just 5 percent of adolescent patient charts including smoking status as a vital sign -- a government-backed recommendation.

Researchers, who audited Wisconsin Medicaid medical records of patients 11 to 21 years old, also found that people least likely to be asked about their smoking status were younger patients, those from rural areas, and patients who were not pregnant.

"Previous studies may have overestimated interventions with adolescents because they were based on physician self-report," lead author Dr. Tammy Sims, of the University of Wisconsin Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center, said in a prepared statement.

"Through analysis of patient charts, we have found that physicians are losing a golden opportunity to intervene with current teen smokers and to dissuade potential smokers among the younger teen population," Sims said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about youth and tobacco.

SOURCE: University of Wisconsin-Madison, news release, June 24, 2004
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