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Psychologists and Smoking Cessation Intervention: Unrealised Potential

  • Jenny Bowman (a1) (a2), Amanda Fletcher (a3), John Wiggers (a3) (a2), Amy Anderson (a3) (a2), Kathleen McElwaine (a1) (a3), Kate Bartlem (a1) (a2), David Wilkinson (a1) and Paula Wye (a1) (a2)...


Smoking cessation interventions during routine clinical encounters by health professionals have the potential to reach smokers and facilitate cessation. Although psychologists might appear to be ideal providers of such interventions, international research suggests that their provision is limited. This paper reports the results of a survey conducted in NSW, Australia, of psychologists’ (n = 72) smoking intervention practices, attitudes, and barriers to providing such care. Less than half of the respondents reported assessing smoking status for ‘all or nearly all’ of their clients. Across a range of smoking cessation intervention types, the most frequent response given indicated provision to ‘none or almost none’ of clients who smoked. Only 13% of respondents indicated even ‘advising cessation’ to ‘all or nearly all’ of their smoking clients. Barriers included concern about negative influence on the therapeutic relationship, inadequacy of training and lack of confidence to intervene. Respondents were less likely to provide intervention for smoking than for cannabis, methamphetamine ‘ice’, and alcohol. The study suggests that the potential of Australian psychologists to assist smokers to quit is not being realised, and that there is a need to address the barriers to care provision.

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The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution licence <>.

Corresponding author

Correspondencening author: Associate Professor Jenny Bowman, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia. Email:


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