A literature review on the knowledge, attitude and practice of healthcare professionals towards electronic cigarettes

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Aim: The aim of this literature review is to provide a better understanding of the knowledge, attitude and practice of healthcare professionals towards electronic cigarettes

Methods: Five electronic databases (CINAHL, Scopus, Embase, Psychinfo and Medline) were explored using keywords such as knowledge or awareness, attitude or perception, e-cigarettes and healthcare professionals. Studies used to answer the research question were published between January 2006 and April 2017. Qualitative studies were excluded. Studies were appraised using a critical analysis tool for cross-sectional surveys and a narrative synthesis was carried out.

Results: Search result produced 54 articles, duplicates were removed and 12 cross sectional surveys were selected for inclusion. A total of 2,357 healthcare professionals from six countries took part. Responses revealed that healthcare professionals had some knowledge of e-cigarettes. Most of the healthcare professionals surveyed believe that e-cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes, with approximately two thirds believing that e-cigarettes can lower the risk of cancer compared to traditional cigarettes. The responses also revealed that approximately half of the participants believe e-cigarettes to be an effective cessation therapy tool, though few were actively recommending e-cigarettes to their patients. Participants also reported not feeling confident enough to advise patients on e-cigarettes use and most wanted to learn more.

Conclusion: Overall attitudes towards e-cigarettes were positive; however healthcare professionals wanted to improve their knowledge. Most healthcare professionals reported that they did not actively recommend them in practice. Improving the education and training of healthcare professionals may help to increase e-cigarette recommendation rates, which in turn may help improve smoking cessation rates and patient outcomes.

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest

Mr Nathaniel Enumah