Tobacco use prevalence and smoking cessation pharmacotherapy prescription patterns among hospitalized patients by medical specialty

A. Benjamin Srivastava, Alex T. Ramsey, Leslie D. McIntosh, Thomas C. Bailey, Sherri L. Fisher, Louis Fox, Mario Castro, Yinjiao Ma, Timothy B. Baker, Li Shiun Chen, Laura J. Bierut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Effective smoking cessation medications are readily available but may be underutilized in hospital settings. In our large, tertiary care hospital, we aimed to (1) characterize patient tobacco use prevalence across medical specialties, (2) determine smoking cessation pharmacotherapy prescription variation across specialties, and (3) identify opportunities for improvement in practice. Methods: Using electronic health records at Barnes Jewish Hospital, we gathered demographic data, admitting service, admission route, length of stay, self-reported tobacco use, and smoking cessation prescriptions over a 6-year period, from 2010 to 2016. We then compared tobacco use prevalence and smoking cessation prescriptions across medical specialties using a cross-sectional, retrospective design. Results: Past 12-month tobacco use was reported by patients in 27.9% of inpatient admissions; prescriptions for smoking cessation pharmacotherapy were provided during 21.5% of these hospitalizations. The proportion of patients reporting tobacco use was highest in psychiatry (55.3%) and lowest in orthopedic surgery (17.1%). Psychiatric patients who reported tobacco use were most likely to receive pharmacotherapy (71.8% of admissions), and plastic surgery patients were least likely (4.7% of admissions). Compared with Caucasian tobacco users, African American patients who used tobacco products were less likely to receive smoking cessation medications (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.62 to 0.68). Conclusions: Among hospitalized tobacco users, safe and cost-effective pharmacotherapies are under-prescribed. We identified substantial variation in prescribing practices across different medical specialties and demographic groups, suggesting the need for an electronic medical record protocol that facilitates consistent tobacco use cessation pharmacotherapy treatment. Implications: Tobacco use cessation pharmacotherapy is underutilized during hospitalization, and prescription rates vary greatly across medical specialties and patient characteristics. Hospitals may benefit from implementing policies and practices that standardize and automate the offer of smoking pharmacotherapy for all hospitalized patients who use tobacco.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-637
Number of pages7
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019


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