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Worldwide survey of education on tobacco in medical schools


OBJECTIVES To determine the extent of teaching about tobacco, tobacco-related diseases, and smoking cessation techniques in medical schools around the world; and to ascertain the problems of getting the teaching about tobacco onto the medical curriculum.

DESIGN Cross-sectional survey. Questionnaires were sent to the 1353 medical schools in 143 countries around the world using the World Health Organization’s Directory of Medical Schools. The questionnaire was translated from English into French, Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese.

SUBJECTS Deans of medical schools worldwide, or their nominees.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES Extent and format of teaching about tobacco in the medical curriculum, objectives and content of the courses on tobacco, and problems encountered in introducing the topic of tobacco.

RESULTS 493 medical schools responded, representing 64% of countries and 36% of schools. Only 12% of medical schools did not cover the topic of tobacco in the medical curriculum. 58% of medical schools taught about tobacco during the teaching of other subjects. 40% taught tobacco by systematically integrating teaching with other modules. 11% had a specific module on tobacco. The medical schools reported on the objectives and content of their courses on tobacco, which commonly included knowledge about tobacco-related diseases and pharmacological issues. Only a third taught about smoking cessation techniques. 22% had encountered problems in introducing the topic of tobacco, and respondents offered solutions to overcome these problems.

CONCLUSIONS Medical schools need continued encouragement to include tobacco issues in their curricula, with particular emphasis on teaching about smoking cessation techniques.

  • smoking cessation
  • medical schools
  • tobacco education

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