Background Approximately 50% of Egyptian pregnant non-smoking women and 55% of children are exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS), representing a major public health concern. Health care professionals (HCPs) are well placed to help in preventing exposure and its associated health harms by increasing risk-awareness in these groups. This study aimed to explore risk-awareness, attitudes and practice of HCPs in maternal and child health (MCH) clinics in Egypt towards SHS exposure among pregnant women and children.
Methods A survey was distributed to all HCPs working in public MCH clinics in primary and secondary health care centres in Assiut city, Egypt in 2020. The questionnaire included 12 questions exploring risk-awareness, 10 questions for attitude and 5 questions for counselling practice of HCPs. Scores on risk-awareness were classified as ‘low’, and ‘high’ risk awareness, while attitudes towards SHS exposure were classified as ‘low’, and ‘high’ negative attitudes. Scores on counselling practices were classified as good practice if 75% of questions answered with always or sometimes. Univariate analysis was performed to explore factors associated with high risk-awareness, high negative attitude and good counselling practice.
Results 367 HCPs participated in the survey (response rate 68.5%): 45% nurses, 21% gynaecologists/obstetricians, 16% paediatricians, 9% general practitioners and 9% midwives. 12.5% of HCPs reported being smokers and 70.3% reported exposure to SHS in their workplace and 51.7% in their homes. 22.1% of participants reported having received training on smoking cessation. 55.9% had high awareness of the risks of SHS exposure to health of pregnant women and children. General practitioners and paediatricians had higher risk awareness than other specialities (P<0.001). 52.9% of HCPs had high negative attitude towards SHS exposure among pregnant women or children. This finding was more common among HCPs who were female HCPs (57.4%, P=0.01), working in rural areas (61.3%, P=0.02) and who reported not being exposed to SHS at home (59.9%, P=0.001). 51.8% of HCPs reported having good counselling practice regarding SHS exposure. This was significantly associated with being female (56.2%, P=0.01), serving a rural population (68.5%, P=0.001), receiving previous training on smoking cessation (72.8%, P=0.001) and not being exposed to SHS at home (61.6%, P=0.001).
Conclusion Egyptian HCPs’ awareness, attitude and practice in relation to the risks of SHS to pregnant women and children is inadequate. It is essential for them to receive additional education and training to enable them to help pregnant women/mothers of children to avoid SHS exposure.
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