Journal of Smoking Cessation

  • Journal of Smoking Cessation / Volume 8 / Issue 02 / December 2013, pp 76-84
  • Copyright © The Author(s), published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Australian Academic Press Pty Ltd 2013 The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution licence <>.
  • DOI: (About DOI), Published online: 07 October 2013


Psychologists and Smoking Cessation Intervention: Unrealised Potential

Jenny Bowmana1a3 c1, Amanda Fletchera2, John Wiggersa2a3, Amy Andersona2a3, Kathleen McElwainea1a2, Kate Bartlema1a3, David Wilkinsona1 and Paula Wyea1a3

a1 School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia

a2 School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Australia

a3 Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, Australia


Smoking cessation interventions during routine clinical encounters by health professionals have the potential to reach smokers and facilitate cessation. Although psychologists might appear to be ideal providers of such interventions, international research suggests that their provision is limited. This paper reports the results of a survey conducted in NSW, Australia, of psychologists’ (n = 72) smoking intervention practices, attitudes, and barriers to providing such care. Less than half of the respondents reported assessing smoking status for ‘all or nearly all’ of their clients. Across a range of smoking cessation intervention types, the most frequent response given indicated provision to ‘none or almost none’ of clients who smoked. Only 13% of respondents indicated even ‘advising cessation’ to ‘all or nearly all’ of their smoking clients. Barriers included concern about negative influence on the therapeutic relationship, inadequacy of training and lack of confidence to intervene. Respondents were less likely to provide intervention for smoking than for cannabis, methamphetamine ‘ice’, and alcohol. The study suggests that the potential of Australian psychologists to assist smokers to quit is not being realised, and that there is a need to address the barriers to care provision.


  • Smoking cessation care;
  • psychologists


c1 Correspondencening author: Associate Professor Jenny Bowman, School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia. Email: