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The 13th World Conference on Tobacco OR Health
Building capacity for a tobacco-free world
July 12-15, 2006, Washington, DC, USA
Objective: Medical students in India should be educated about the implications of tobacco use. As future physicians they have an important role in tobacco control. However, medical curriculum in India has not changed to address tobacco related diseases.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey among 1366 medical students (mean age 21, 46% male) in 2 medical schools of Kerala. Information on tobacco use, current status of tobacco education, and perceptions towards and need for incorporating tobacco education into the medical curriculum was collected using structured questionnaires.
Results: Current tobacco use among medical students was 10% (20% males, 2% females). Although 55% reported receiving general tobacco related information, it was in the context of overall health risks and primarily focused on disease related risk. Of those who received tobacco information, only 16% reported being provided information on cessation interventions. The majority (95%) believed that it was very important to incorporate tobacco education into the curriculum and were very receptive to learning more about tobacco, particularly cessation. Most (87%) wanted to receive between 1-5 lectures as part of subjects such as community medicine, internal medicine and respiratory medicine. The preferred mode of learning was lectures or small group discussion. Most students also desired to receive practical experience on tobacco cessation. Though 80% perceive quitting as being difficult for patients, 71% had talked or explained to some patients on tobacco related health risks in clinical interactions. An initiative is presently underway by the authors to incorporate tobacco education in the medical curriculum.