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Spanish nursing students know less about smoking risk than they did a decade ago

Nursing students in Spain are less knowledgeable about the health risks of smoking than their predecessors were a decade ago, suggests a ten-year study of changes in students’ beliefs and attitudes towards tobacco.

Picture credit: Alamy

A self-administered survey was completed by 900 nursing and physiotherapy students at a Spanish faculty of health sciences in 2003, 2008 and 2013.

The proportion of smokers among nursing and physiotherapy students was 29.3% in 2003, 24.7% in 2008, and 18.3% in 2013 – a downward trend in line with declining levels of smoking in the general population.

However, there was a significant worsening in students’ knowledge about medical conditions associated with smoking and with exposure to secondhand smoke.

In 2013, 55.3% and 23.6% of students stated that they were unaware of any association between smoking and bladder cancer, and smoking and oral leucoplakia, respectively. The figures for 2003 were 32% and 2.3% respectively.

Almost a third of students (31.2%) in 2013 did not know there was a link between secondhand smoke and cardiovascular disease, childhood asthma and underweight newborns; the figure for 2003 was 4.9%.

The researchers conclude that a programme should be implemented to encourage those university students who smoke to quit, and add that the decline in knowledge about smoking is evidence of a ‘significant deficit in undergraduate training’.

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