OBJECTIVES: Integrating smoking cessation interventions into dental care is an efficient way to intervene with smokers. This study of dentists and dental hygienists who provide dental care to Medicaid-insured patients explores awareness of Medicaid smoking cessation benefits, awareness of Quitline resources, beliefs about perceived role in providing tobacco interventions, and behaviors around clinical intervention.
METHODS: In 2015, we conducted a survey of dentists and hygienists who serve Medicaid patients in New York State.
RESULTS: A total of 182 dentists and 92 hygienists completed the survey. Ninety percent reported that helping patients quit smoking is part of their role, while 51.0 percent reported feeling confident in their ability to counsel a patient about quitting. Most respondents (73.4 percent) asked patients about tobacco use, 83.7 percent advised smokers to quit, and 49.1 percent assisted with quit attempts. We found that 26.7 percent were aware that dentist smoking cessation counseling is covered by Medicaid, and 15.5 percent were aware that hygienist smoking cessation counseling is covered. A total of 38.9 percent were aware of any Medicaid coverage for smoking cessation. Awareness of the Medicaid smoking cessation benefit was associated with intervention behaviors of asking and assisting.
CONCLUSIONS: Most dental care providers see smoking cessation as part of their role, but few are aware of the Medicaid benefits available to help patients. Expanding coverage of and promoting Medicaid benefits for smoking cessation have the potential to increase the reach and quality of smoking cessation interventions for Medicaid-insured smokers, a population disproportionately affected by tobacco use.