More Than One-Third of Patients Hospitalized for Asthma Exacerbations are Smokers

Resident & Staff Physician®October 2016

Although 35% of US patients hospitalized for an asthma exacerbation were current smokers, only 55% of current smokers received a smoking cessation intervention during their hospital stay.

To determine the prevalence of cigarette smoking in US adults hospitalized for asthma, and to learn more about how many of them received in-patient smoking cessation intervention, researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed the results of a previous multicenter observational study. That study included 597 U.S. adults admitted to the hospital for an asthma exacerbation in 2012 or 2013. The researchers published the results of their secondary analysis in the July/August issue of Allergy and Asthma Proceedings.

In the cohort analyzed, 215 patients, or 36%, were current smokers. Patients with private health insurance were far less likely to be among this group than those with public or no health insurance. Patients who had been evaluated by an asthma specialist in the last 12 months, as well as users of inhaled corticosteroids, were also less likely to be current smokers.

During their hospital stay, only 55% of current smokers received any smoking cessation intervention. Current smokers who had public health insurance or no health insurance were less likely to receive such an intervention than those with private health insurance.

According to the researchers, these finding revealed a persistently high prevalence of smoking among U.S. patients hospitalized for asthma exacerbations. These findings also found that opportunities to provide these patients with smoking cessation interventions during their hospital stay, when they may be strongly motivated to make positive health changes, were underutilized. The study also suggests that in-patient smoking cessation interventions should focus on patients with public health insurance or no health insurance, for whom such interventions may be less accessible.

In a similar multicenter study back in 1999 and 2000, the prevalence of smoking among U.S. patients admitted for asthma exacerbation was close to the new result: 35%. That study also showed that efforts to promote smoking cessation in these patients had been less than optimal.

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