Rationale Relative to other regions in the USA, Mississippi has a high prevalence of tobacco use and tobacco-related disease. This study assessed the tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes and intervention behaviours of family doctors, dentists and nurse practitioners in the state of Mississippi.
Methods The Provider Attitude Survey, an 85-item measure of tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes and intervention behaviours was mailed to all members of Mississippi's Family Medicine, Dentistry and Nurse Practitioner professional organizations (N = 2043).
Results Over one-third (n = 802, 39.2%) of eligible providers responded. Just 24.3% had received training in tobacco cessation and 33.7% were aware of the Public Health Service clinical practice guideline. Over 90% indicated that it was their role to prevent tobacco use; felt rewarded when they helped patients quit; and were bothered and upset by the health effects of tobacco. Doctors assisted more patients than nurses or dentists. Doctors and nurses reported more self-efficacy, motivation and preparedness for treating tobacco use than dentists. Providers with training performed more interventions and reported more self-efficacy, preparedness and fewer barriers than those without training. Training was associated with greater increases in self-efficacy, preparedness and intervention behaviours for dentists than for the other groups.
Conclusions Despite a high prevalence of tobacco use and tobacco-related disease in Mississippi, primary care providers in Mississippi provide tobacco cessation interventions at an unacceptably low frequency relative to other regions. Training is likely to increase the frequency of intervention behaviours.