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Tobacco use prevalence, knowledge, and attitudes among newly diagnosed tuberculosis patients in Penang State and Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Ahmed Awaisu1*, Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamed2, Noorizan Abd Aziz1, Syed Azhar Syed Sulaiman1, Noorliza Mohamad Noordin3, Abdul Razak Muttalif4 and Aziah Ahmad Mahayiddin5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia

2 Department of Pharmacy Practice, Kulliyyah of Pharmacy, International Islamic University Malaysia, 25200 Kuantan, Pahang DM, Malaysia

3 Department of Health Economics & Finance, Institute for Health Management, NIH, Ministry of Health, 59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

4 Department of Respiratory Medicine, Penang Hospital, Jalan Residensi, 10990 Penang, Malaysia

5 Institut Perubatan Respiratori, 53000 Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Tobacco Induced Diseases 2010, 8:3  doi:10.1186/1617-9625-8-3

Published: 12 January 2010

Abstract

Background

There is sufficient evidence to conclude that tobacco smoking is strongly linked to tuberculosis (TB) and a large proportion of TB patients may be active smokers. In addition, a previous analysis has suggested that a considerable proportion of the global burden of TB may be attributable to smoking. However, there is paucity of information on the prevalence of tobacco smoking among TB patients in Malaysia. Moreover, the tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of TB patients who are smokers have not been previously explored. This study aimed to document the prevalence of smoking among newly diagnosed TB patients and to learn about the tobacco use knowledge and attitudes of those who are smokers among this population.

Methods

Data were generated on prevalence rates of smoking among newly diagnosed TB patients in the State of Penang from January 2008 to December 2008. The data were obtained based on a review of routinely collated data from the quarterly report on TB case registration. The study setting comprised of five healthcare facilities (TB clinics) located within Penang and Wilayah Persekutuan, Kuala Lumpur health districts in Malaysia, which were involved in a larger project, known as SCIDOTS Project. A 58-item questionnaire was used to assess the tobacco use knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of those TB patients who were smokers.

Results

Smoking status was determinant in 817 of 943 new cases of TB from January to December 2008. Of this, it was estimated that the prevalence rates of current- and ex-smoking among the TB patients were 40.27% (329/817) and 13.95% (114/817), respectively. The prevalence of ever-smoking among patients with TB was estimated to be 54,220 per 100,000 population. Of 120 eligible participants for the SCIDOTS Project, 88 responded to the survey (73.3% response rate) and 80 surveys were analyzed (66.7% usable rate). The mean (± SD) total score of tobacco use knowledge items was 4.23 ± 2.66 (maximum possible score=11). More than half of the participants (51.3%) were moderately dependent to nicotine. A moderately large proportion of the respondents (41.2%) reported that they have ever attempted to quit smoking, while more than half (56.3%) have not. Less than half (47.5%) of the study participants had knowledge about the body system on which cigarette smoking has the greatest negative effect. The majority wrongly believed that smokeless tobacco can increase athletic performance (60%) and that it is a safe and harmless product (46.2%). An overwhelming proportion (>80%) of the patients believed that: smoking is a waste of money, tobacco use is very dangerous to health, and that smokers are more likely to die from heart disease when compared with non-smokers. The use of smokeless tobacco was moderately prevalent among the participants with 28.8% reporting ever snuffed, but the use of cigar and pipe was uncommon.

Conclusion

Smoking prevalence rate is high among patients with TB in Malaysia. These patients generally had deficiencies in knowledge of tobacco use and its health dangers, but had positive attitudes against tobacco use. Efforts should be geared towards reducing tobacco use among this population due to its negative impact on TB treatment outcomes.