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The effect of intensive care unit admission on smokers’ attitudes and their likelihood of quitting smoking

Footscray Hospital Intensive Care Unit, Western Health, Melbourne, Victoria


We sought to estimate the proportion of patients admitted to a metropolitan intensive care unit (ICU) who were current smokers, and the relationships between ICU survivors who smoked and smoking cessation and/or reduction six months post–ICU discharge. We conducted a prospective cohort study at a metropolitan level III ICU in Melbourne, Victoria. One hundred consecutive patients who met the inclusion criteria were included in the study. Inclusion criteria consisted of patients who were smokers at time of ICU admission, had an ICU length of stay greater than one day, survived to ICU discharge, and provided written informed consent. A purpose-designed questionnaire which included the Fagerstrom test for nicotine dependence and evaluation of patients’ attitude towards smoking cessation was completed by participants following ICU discharge and prior to hospital discharge. Participants were re-interviewed over the phone at six months post–ICU discharge. Of the 1,062 patients admitted to ICU, 253 (23%) were current smokers and 100 were enrolled. Six months post–ICU discharge, 28 (33%) of the 86 participants who were alive and contactable had quit smoking and 35 (41%) had reduced smoking. The median number of reported cigarettes smoked per day reduced by 40%. Participants who initially believed their ICU admission was smoking-related were more likely to have quit six months post–ICU discharge (odds ratio 2.98; 95% confidence interval 1.07 to 8.26; P=0.036). Six months post–ICU discharge, 63/86 (74%) of participants had quit or reduced their smoking. Further research into targeted smoking cessation counselling for ICU survivors is indicated.

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