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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Smoking behaviour, knowledge and attitudes among Family Medicine physicians and nurses in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Geoffrey Hodgetts12, Teresa Broers2* and Marshall Godwin12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, Canada

2 Queen's University Family Medicine Development Program in the Balkans Region, Queen's University, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, Canada

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BMC Family Practice 2004, 5:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-5-12

Published: 11 June 2004



Smoking rates among the general population in Bosnia and Herzegovina are extremely high, and national campaigns to lower smoking rates have not yet begun. As part of future activities of the Queen's University Family Medicine Development Program in the Balkans Region, technical assistance may be provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop of national tobacco control strategies. This assistance may focus on training doctors and nurses on smoking cessation strategies with a view to helping their patients to stop smoking. Given this important role that health professionals have, data is needed on smoking rates as well as on smoking behaviour among doctors and nurses in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This study therefore seeks to determine the smoking rates and behaviour of family medicine physicians and nurses in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to determine how well prepared they feel with respect to counselling their patients on smoking cessation strategies.


The WHO Global Health Professional Survey, a self-administered questionnaire, was distributed to physicians and nurses in 19 Family Medicine Teaching Centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina in June 2002. Smoking rates and behaviour, as well as information on knowledge and attitudes regarding smoking were determined for both physicians and nurses.


Of the 273 physicians and nurses currently working in Family Medicine Teaching Centres, 209 (77%) completed the questionnaire. Approximately 45% of those surveyed currently smoke, where 51% of nurses smoked, compared to 40% of physicians. With respect to knowledge and attitudes, all respondents agreed that smoking is harmful to one's health. However, "ever" smokers, compared to "never" smokers, were less likely to agree that health professionals who smoke were less likely to advise patients to quit smoking than non-smoking health professionals. Less than half of physicians and nurses had received formal training in smoking cessations strategies, but about two thirds of health professionals felt very or somewhat prepared to counsel their patients on how to quit smoking.


Our study indicates that almost half of Family Medicine health professionals in Bosnia and Herzegovina are smokers. This indicates a severe public health problem throughout the country. Steps need to be taken at a national level to address the fight against tobacco.