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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: There is a well-established relationship between US physicians' personal health habits and their patient prevention counseling practices . We hypothesized a similar relationship for Lao medical students.
Methods: Medical students' tobacco, alcohol and exercise patterns have never been comprehensively studied prior to the Healthy Doc-Healthy Patient (HDHP) study (17 US schools; 1998-2003). We modified and translated the HDHP questionnaire for the Lao culture and obtained local Ethical Committee approval. Students gave voluntary consent, completed an anonymous, self-administered, 87-item questionnaire and were tested for expired carbon monoxide (Bedfont Micro III Smokerlyzer).
Results: We recruited students from the last four classes (386/442, 87.3%) between February and October 2005. Tobacco use in Lao medical students (36/386, 18%) is predominantly a male phenomenon (30/167, 10.8% vs. 6/219, 0.03%) and all six females were only casual smokers. Only 37.7% of males have never smoked, compared to 90% of females. Age of initiation was after age 20 years in 53.8%. Smokers and non-smokers agreed that smoking is harmful (99.2%) and active (96.4%) and passive (95.3%) smoking increases the risk of heart disease. CO testing confirmed self-reports.
One fourth drank alcohol on 3 or more days in the last month (101/330, 26.1%) and 45.6% drank more than 5 drinks/ episode (176/330) in the last month. Ever smokers (57.1%) were more likely to drink than never smokers (16.9%)
Relationships between personal risk behaviors, counseling practices and gender/cultural norms for exercise habits, alcohol and tobacco use will be correlated and compared to results from the HDHP study in US medical students.