Effects of physician counseling on the smoking behavior of asbestos-exposed workers

Virginia C. Li, Young J. Kim, Craig K. Ewart, Peter B. Terry, Judy C. Cuthie, Jackie Wood, Edward A. Emmett, Solbert Permutt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Physician antismoking advice has been shown to increase smoking cessation, particularly among patients who have medical problems or perceive themselves to be at risk. The present study tested three hypotheses: (a) providing 3 to 5 min of behavioral counseling regarding a cessation strategy would be more effective than simply warning the smoker to quit smoking; (b) smokers with abnormal pulmonary function would be more likely to comply with medical advice than would smokers with normal pulmonary function; and (c) that smokers with abnormal pulmonary function who receive behavioral counseling would be the group most likely to achieve prolonged abstinence. Asbestos-exposed smoking men undergoing screening in a mandated program for naval shipyard workers were categorized as having normal or abnormal pulmonary status on the basis of chest X ray and pulmonary function tests (PFT). They were then randomly assigned within PFT categories to receive either a simple warning or 3 to 5 min of behavioral cessation counseling from the physician who gave them the results of their pulmonary tests. Subjects' smoking status was evaluated at 3- and 11-month intervals following the physician intervention. Smokers who received behavioral counseling were more likely to quit and remain abstinent over the 11-month period (8.4% abstinent) than were smokers given a minimal warning (3.6% abstinent). Prolonged abstinence rates among abnormal PFT subjects (3.7%) did not differ from those of normals (5.9%). The group with normal PFT who received behavioral counseling achieved the highest level of abstinence (9.5%). Maintaining adequate physician compliance with the counseling protocol proved difficult; implications of this for future efforts are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-476
Number of pages15
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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