How do you discuss smoking with patients?

When I have patients who smoke, I ask at every visit whether they are thinking about quitting. Often, they roll their eyes at me and are not happy that I am bringing it up. But I remind them that when you come to the doctor, one of the things you expect is that the doctor will ask you important questions about your health. I say, “If I haven’t asked you about smoking, I haven’t done right by you today.” Usually, they say, “You’re right.”

We talk about health risks, available tools for smoking cessation, and I remind them that we are available to help and discuss risks. Again, I take a nonjudgmental approach so they feel safe and accepted.


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Do you discuss firearms with patients?

We ask questions about firearms routinely, as part of screening, although firearm ownership is a very sensitive subject. If patients have firearms in the house, I remind them that the firearms should be kept out of the reach of children and others who do not know how to use them, and encourage patients to take appropriate safety precautions.

References

McBride R. Talking to Patients About Sensitive Topics: Communication and Screening Techniques for Increasing the Reliability of Patient Self-Report. Association of American Medical Colleges. Available at: https://www.mededportal.org/publication/9089/. Accessed: February 5, 2018.