• Oncology social workers and tobacco-related practice: An exploratory study

      Parker, Karen; DeForge, Bruce R. (2010)
      Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, causes approximately 430,000 deaths annually in the United States and is considered to be the number one preventable cause of death (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2010b; Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 2000; Fiore et al., 2008). Nearly one-third of all cancers are due to tobacco use (ACS, 2010b); therefore, it is likely that many cancer patients and survivors smoke. While a tobacco-related illness, particularly cancer, may be a motivating factor to help some smokers quit, approximately one-third of smokers continue to smoke after a cancer diagnosis (Gritz, Fingeret, Vidrine, Lazev, Mehta, & Reece, 2006). This study utilized a cross-sectional design to study the tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, education/training, workplace factors, self-perceived competence (self-efficacy), and practice of oncology social workers. A self-administered, Internet-based survey was sent to members of the Association of Oncology Social Work; the final response rate was 12%. Five of the eight independent variables were significantly (p<.01) correlated with tobacco-related social work practice (dependent variable). These include tobacco-related knowledge (r=.349); continuing educational units (training) (r=.339); workplace facilitators (r=.554); tobacco-related attitudes (r=.343); and self-perceived competence (r=.642). A multiple regression model was developed to predict tobacco-related oncology social work practice. Only one variable, self-perceived competence, remained significant in the final model (B=0.891, p<.001). The overall variance accounted for (R2) in the model was .554. Perceived self-competence was found to mediate the relationship between workplace facilitators and tobacco-related oncology social work practice (Sobel test statistic=3.70; p<.0001). Improved understanding about how oncology social workers can increase their self-perceived competence in tobacco-related practices is essential to increasing their activity in this area.