What do medical students know about e-cigarettes? A cross-sectional survey from one U.S. medical school

Katie Hinderaker, David V. Power, Sharon Allen, Ellen Parker, Kolawole Okuyemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Although electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has rapidly increased, there is little data about what United States medical students know or are taught about them. This study examined medical students' experiences, knowledge, and attitudes regarding e-cigarettes, as well as their evaluation of their education on e-cigarettes. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey of medical students currently enrolled at the University of Minnesota Medical School (n = 984) was conducted over a three-week period in August and September 2015. Primary outcomes included students' personal experiences with e-cigarettes, knowledge and attitudes about e-cigarettes, and students' assessment of their education on e-cigarettes. Results: 66.9% medical students completed the survey. 58% (n = 382) of participants identified as female. 35.8% (n = 235) were "not sure" whether e-cigarettes were approved by the FDA for smoking cessation, while 4.1% (n = 27) falsely believed they were. While 82.9% (n = 543) agreed or strongly agreed that they felt confident in their ability to discuss traditional cigarette use with patients, only 12.4% (n = 81) agreed or strongly agreed that they felt confident in their ability to discuss e-cigarettes with patients. 94.8% (n = 619) of participants believed that they had not received adequate education about e-cigarettes in medical school. A higher proportion of males reported ever using an e-cigarette. Conclusions: The gaps in medical student knowledge and wide variances in attitudes about e-cigarettes at one medical school together with their report of inadequate education in an environment of increasing use of e-cigarette use in the U.S. speaks to a need for the development of medical school curriculum on e-cigarettes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Twin Cities Medical Society and the University of Minnesota Program in Health Disparities Research, who jointly provided funding for the gift cards for participants.

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the University of Minnesota medical students for their contributions to this research. Dr. John Hughes at the University of Minnesota completed the statistical analyses and received compensation for his contribution. Carol Lange helped coordinate data collection and provided additional support. Regarding the use of REDCap, the project described was supported by Award Number UL1TR000114 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Research Resources or the National Institutes of Health. Study data were collected and managed using REDCap electronic data capture tools hosted at the University of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Alternative nicotine products
  • E-cigarettes
  • Electronic cigarette
  • Medical school curriculum development
  • Medical student education


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