Overcoming Challenges to Treating Tobacco use during Pregnancy - A Qualitative study of Australian General Practitioners Barriers

Yael Bar-Zeev*, Eliza Skelton, Billie Bonevski, Maree Gruppetta, Gillian S. Gould

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: General practitioners can play an important role in addressing smoking among pregnant women but studies suggest they rarely do so. The aim of this study was to explore general practitioners perceptions about the management of smoking in pregnancy, and what would enable them to provide better care. Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted (Feb-July 2017), with 19 Australian general practitioners recruited from a sample that participated in a national survey on managing smoking during pregnancy; and through a national conference. The interview guide was structured using the theoretical domains framework, exploring previously reported barriers and two specific components of smoking cessation care - nicotine replacement therapy prescription and Quitline referral. Results: Participants reported high confidence and knowledge to provide pregnant patients adequate support for quitting. Nonetheless, participants reported lacking communication skills, focusing on providing information on smoking harm, accepting cutting down cigarettes as adequate, while following the 'Stages of Change' model and only providing treatment options to motivated patients. Lack of time, nicotine replacement therapy cost and safety concerns, and being unfamiliar with the Quitline (particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander pregnant smokers) were perceived as challenges. Participants reported needing better communication skills, clear detailed nicotine replacement therapy guidelines for special populations, and visual resources they could use to discuss treatment options with patients. Conclusions: Difficulty communicating with pregnant patients about smoking, using the 'Stages of Change' model to guide support provision and concerns regarding nicotine replacement therapy safety are barriers to providing cessation support to pregnant patients for general practitioners. Training on specific effective behaviour change techniques, clear guidance for nicotine replacement therapy use, and practical visual patient education tools may facilitate smoking cessation care provision to pregnant women.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number61
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Health providers, nicotine replacement therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking cessation


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