Introduction: Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death among women in the United States. It is a particular problem for women using the Veterans Health Administration (VA), where the prevalence of smoking among women is 30%. We compared the baseline characteristics of male and female smokers and then assessed the smoking cessation services they received to determine whether there are important gender differences in care. Methods: As part of a study of implementing national guidelines for smoking cessation taking place at 18/23 VA centers in the southwestern and western United States, we conducted a baseline survey of a random sample of 1,941 smokers in primary care (129 women, 1,812 men) to assess the smoking cessation services received by female and male veterans. Subjects were followed 1 year later (73 women, 1007 men). Results for men and women were compared using chi-square tests and analysis of variance. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine factors that were independently associated with receipt of smoking cessation services. Results: Female smokers were younger, more educated, and less likely to be married than male smokers. Women were equally likely to report being advised to quit smoking or referred to a smoking cessation program but were much less likely to report receiving a prescription for nicotine patches (OR .5, 95% CI .3-.9). One year later, female smokers were less likely to have successfully quit smoking. Conclusion: Women were less likely to report receiving nicotine patches for smoking cessation. Future interventions to increase use of smoking cessation medications for female smokers will also hopefully increase their quit rate.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Melissa Farmer, PhD, for her helpful comments on this manuscript and Laura York, MA, for her assistance in preparing and editing it. This work was supported by the following grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Service: CPG 97-002 (Sherman), HFP 94-028 (Center of Excellence for the Study of Healthcare Provider Behavior). In addition, Dr. Fu is supported by a Career Development Award from the VA HSR&D Service.
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