The purpose of this study is to encompass the various external and internal factors that instigate an individual to take up smoking and its particular prevalence in the life of a health studies student.
For a long time, smoking and tobacco addiction among the youth have been a concern for the authorities in the public health care domain. There have been various measures that were taken by the concerned authorities in this domain and other allied bodies such as the NHS for the prevention and reduction in the number of people that uptake and get addicted to smoking.
In this field, there is no denying the fact that most health care professionals of the UK have a major role to play in the existing health care system.
There is no doubt that ample research has been conducted on the smoking habits of individuals from different backgrounds. The use of tobacco in the form of smoking among the healthcare professionals who have been instrumental in the upkeep of the existing healthcare system in the country has seen a steady decline in the last couple of years, yet the absolute numbers in this regard remain very high.
One of the leading causes of premature deaths in the UK is smoking tobacco. As per the studies conducted in this direction, the number of people who get affected by this addictive behavior of tobacco smoking has been showing either an increasing or static trend over the decades but the list of conditions caused by tobacco consumption has grown (Bakulski & Fallin, 2014). Presently smoking has been known to be the primary reason behind ailments such as pneumonia, intense myeloid leukemia, stomach aortic aneurysm, stomach tumors, pancreatic tumors, cervical malignancy, kidney tumors, periodontitis, and different infections. These infections join the well-known rundown of tobacco-related sicknesses, like those of lung, throat, larynx, mouth, and throat malignancy, and a lot of other cardiovascular maladies. There have been more than 1.6 million medical admissions done across the country where the primary diagnosis of the ailment was suffering from could be resulting from smoking: both active and passive smoking (Blumenthal & DiClemente, 2013).
According to the tenth annual statistical compendium report, which derives the data as published by the Health and Social Care Information Center (HSCIC), Office of National Statistics, and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, there are some exciting trends in smoking habits among the members of the population of the UK over the years.
As per the cross-sectional studies conducted but Hebels et al, the attitudes, knowledge, and beliefs among health professionals play a vital role in curbing the tendency among healthcare professionals to take up smoking in the later part of their lives (Hebels et al., 2013).
Smoking is one of the major risks that is posed to the health of millions and puts constant pressure on the general public funds and other associated resources, more than any other kind of drug. As of 2013, about 17 percent of all adult deaths at and over the age of 35, in the UK could be attributed directly to have been caused by smoking or ailments that have smoking as their primary causative agent. This has been only a slight improvement over the 19 percent deaths in the year 2003 for the same age bracket were that directly or indirectly caused due to smoke (Green & Thorogood, 2013).
Even in the state of this declining trend in cigarette smoking among the youth population, it cannot be treated as an improvement over the past decade or so because of two reasons. The first reason is, as per several studies that have been undertaken at different times, the awareness and knowledge about the ill effects of smoking among people remains almost the same. The second reason is the price factor that is associated with smoking has seen a rise of about 87 percent over the last decade itself (Gurrin et al., 2013). Despite making the commodity i.e. cigarettes as less affordable as 30 percent for the general populace, the number of smokers has shown little difference. Hence, it can be said that the monetary cost that is involved with tobacco smoking hasn’t had the desired deterrent effect on smokers with the price rise.
This observation would bring us to the research question that has been brought forth as a part of this study.
As discussed in the previous part of this report, various initiatives, whether deliberate or systemic that were undertaken by the authorities from time to time have failed to bring in any perceivable change in the attitude and beliefs of the smokers. The research topic that has been selected in this case concerns itself with the various contributing factors that lead to the habit of smoking tobacco among health studies students.
In the course of this research, the attitude, knowledge, and response to smoking and tobacco abuse were intended to be uncovered by using questionnaires, which were to be answered by a sample from the health studies student pool (Haro et al., 2014). Analysis was made on the data that was collected from the above sample pool of health studies students. Concurrently, the main factors that influence the uptake and consumption of tobacco in the suggested sample pool were enumerated.
The various kinds of literature that were available in this regard were helpful in understanding and analyzing the overall state of the system when it comes to the uptake of tobacco and smoking by individuals. The widely available studies include the research that has been made to understand the difference in the consumption pattern about smoking based on gender, age group, and several other demographic aspects (Gale et al., 2013).
A similar research undertaken on the public health students of a University in Green & Thorogood explained that the awareness among students from public health care backgrounds about the ill effects remains way above average. Despite the increased awareness among the students, the prevalence of tobacco and nicotine addiction remained at about 6 percent (Green & Thorogood, 2013). A large portion of the student body (i.e. 97.7 percent) seemed to be very well-read and aware of the consequences and the health-related issues that smoking can cause at a later point in time. Apart from this, the students who were regular and current smokers also showed signs of trying to quit smoking as they were conscious of the ill effects that nicotine addiction could have on the overall quality of their health.
Similar studies have been undertaken from time to time among the various students from the healthcare study streams of different countries and the various observations that were made contributed to the present-day understanding of smoking habits among the healthcare professionals in the concerned countries. This particular study about smoking habits among health studies students in the UK intends to divulge the various influences and factors that have contributed to the formation of the smoking habit (Park & Calamaro, 2013).
According to Haro et al, a lot of epidemiological, etiological, and pharmacological factors go into the habit-forming aptitude of smoking and nicotine addiction. In his paper, Murray discusses and examines some of these aspects and has observed that cigarette smoking and the related addictive nature comes from the combination of the nicotine, carbon, and tar from the cigarettes (Haro et al., 2014).
Several studies that have been made in this regard indicate that there is a correlation between the nicotine found in cigarettes and the smoking habits of any smoker. Even though there have been nicotine-free alternatives to smoking such as e-cigarettes etc. they haven’t been very popular among smokers due to this very reason.
The statistical data on smoking in the UK that is available for the years 2014 and 2015, presents different insights about the overall behavior and attitudes of individuals from different age groups and backgrounds towards smoking and nicotine addiction. As per the statistical study, about two-thirds of smokers were willing to quit smoking. A good percentage of them had also attended some form of intervention at one point in time or another. This piece of observation is in line with the studies that have been conducted about the health professionals whose smoking habits studies have been conducted before.
During this research, an effort was made to keep the data that was collected from the respondents to be free from any kind of external bias. To achieve the preconceived goal of this research i.e. to identify the various factors that are responsible for the uptake of smoking by the health studies students in the year 2016 and 2017, the method that was adopted involved recording of responses from a set of questions on a questionnaire.
Without a doubt, an adequate amount of care and effort had been put into the framing of the questions in the questionnaires as they serve as the primary tool for gathering data relevant to the research from the participants. The questions in the questionnaire were designed in such a manner that the questions brought out the parameters that were associated or vital to the research question (Green & Thorogood, 2013).
It brought to the fore the various aspects associated with the respondent such as ethnicity, background, familial backdrop, socio-economic status, etc. The questions that were a part of the questionnaire were in the form of multiple-choice questions and were divided into 4 sections ( Check Appendix I).
The participants were 11 students from the university who were pursuing health studies and the sample that was considered was a random sample involving individuals from varied backgrounds. It included students from varied cultural and ethnic backgrounds who were randomly chosen from the health studies class at the university. As opposed to the previous similar studies conducted on a cross-section of healthcare professionals, this particular study shows that the participants agree upon the fact that the nature of their profession that deals with healthcare and allied concerns has very little effect on their smoking habits.
The data that was collected for the 11 participants about the smoking habits of each of the individuals reflected that only 4 of the 11 respondents were smokers at that very point in time. The data that was collected was then analyzed by recording the individual responses of the participants in a consolidated form. Some of the parameters of the data that was acquired, such as age, etc., were plotted on a graph to understand the demographic factor involved in the equation (Park & Calamaro, 2013).
The data indicates that all the smokers in the sample group had started smoking at the age of 18. That particular aspect of the acquired data shows that, even though the students from the health studies background did not see themselves as a societal “role model” of sorts as in the case of other studies.
There are no major ethical issues involved with the entire research methodology. The qualitative nature of the questions asked in the questionnaire is one of the areas where ethical issues could be raised about the acquisition of the personal data of an individual. To avert such issues, consent forms of the appropriate format were signed by the participants to declare that they were part of the survey for purely research and scientific reasons.
The divulgence of the personal data such as names and other IDs of the participants could also be termed as a potential ethical issue in this regard. The same has been neutralized by keeping the participants anonymous. The individual data about the various smoking habits has been acquired in such a manner that the participants did not know how the next person is responding to the questions.
The data that was acquired from the respondents to the questionnaires sheds some light on the various factors that contributed to the smoking habits of the individuals. This particular research also finds a stark difference in the level of awareness and hence the ability of participants to see themselves as the “role model” to the society (being from health studies background) that had helped respondents to other studies that had been undertaken (refer the literature survey)
Out of the 11 participants, 5 of them (about 45.4 percent) were smokers and 2 of them were ex-smokers. The rest 4 were non-smokers. The questions about the attitude, beliefs, and behavioral aspects of the participants have been dealt with in the most concise and comprehensible format.
The study suggests that the students in the health studies stream, even though agree on the negative benefits of smoking, do not see themselves as the societal role model.
The factors that have contributed to the uptake of smoking among health studies students range from peer group pressure to getting triggered by a family member who smoker. When the results are seen keeping the gender as the backdrop it can be observed as the male students are twice as likely to take up smoking as compared to the female students of health studies (Park & Calamaro, 2013).
Other factors that impact the uptake of smoking as a habit among the health studies students is the socio-economic and ethno-cultural background that they come from. Due to the small size of the study group that has been considered for the study, the exact correlation between the socioeconomic background and the diversity in the smoking habit couldn’t be pinpointed. But it is believed that in case the individual comes from a socioeconomic background that is above average the difference in the likelihood of either of the genders greatly decreases.
About the smoking habits among the individuals involved with the healthcare studies and professions should be discouraged. Realistically speaking, most healthcare professionals see themselves as the role model to their patients. Sensitization and promoting awareness of this particular fact can serve as a motivation for those healthcare studies students who wish to quit smoking.
Usually, the awareness of the negative effects of smoking and nicotine addiction among healthcare professionals and students is very high as seen in the case of several studies that have been undertaken before.
The small size of the participating group could be treated as a drawback to this study. Increasing the sample size could have given a clearer picture about a more accurate picture between the social and economic factors that are involved in the long-term habit of smoking among the students from the health studies.
In conclusion, it can be said that the smoking habits of the health studies students vary greatly with respect to individual inclinations and the various environmental factors that they have been exposed to before getting into the health care profession. As per most of the participants who have participated in this study, smoking was taken up by them as a result of either peer pressure or someone in their family who had been a smoker at some point in time.
Bakulski, K.M. and Fallin, M.D., 2014. Epigenetic epidemiology: promises for public health research. Environmental and molecular mutagenesis, 55(3), pp.171-183.
Blumenthal, D.S. and DiClemente, R.J. eds., 2013. Community-based participatory health research: Issues, methods, and translation to practice. Springer Publishing Company.
Campbell-Lendrum, D., Manga, L., Bagayoko, M. and Sommerfeld, J., 2015. Climate change and vector-borne diseases: what are the implications for public health research and policy? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 370(1665), p.20130552.
Gale, N.K., Heath, G., Cameron, E., Rashid, S. and Redwood, S., 2013. Using the framework method for the analysis of qualitative data in multi-disciplinary health research. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 13(1), p.117.
Green, J. and Thorogood, N., 2013. Qualitative methods for health research. Sage.
Gurrin, C., Qiu, Z., Hughes, M., Caprani, N., Doherty, A.R., Hodges, S.E. and Smeaton, A.F., 2013. The smartphone is a platform for wearable cameras in health research. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(3), pp.308-313.
Haro, J.M., Ayuso‐Mateos, J.L., Bitter, I., Demotes‐Mainard, J., Leboyer, M., Lewis, S.W., Linszen, D., Maj, M., Mcdaid, D., Meyer‐Lindenberg, A. and Robbins, T.W., 2014. ROAMER: a roadmap for mental health research in Europe. International Journal of Methods in psychiatric research, 23(S1), pp.1-14.
Hebels, D.G., Georgiadis, P., Keun, H.C., Athersuch, T.J., Vineis, P., Vermeulen, R., Portengen, L., Bergdahl, I.A., Hallmans, G., Palli, D. and Bendinelli, B., 2013. Performance in omics analyses of blood samples in long-term storage: opportunities for the exploitation of existing biobanks in environmental health research. Environmental Health Perspectives (Online), 121(4), p.480.
Jacobsen, K.H., 2016. Introduction to health research methods. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Park, B.K. and Calamaro, C., 2013. A systematic review of social networking sites: Innovative platforms for health research targeting adolescents and young adults. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 45(3), pp.256-264.
The questions included the following aspects for acquiring smoking-related data of the individual participant: