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UCLA study reveals smoking's effect on nurses' health, death rates
Date:11/13/2008

A new UCLA School of Nursing study is the first to reveal the devastating consequences of smoking on the nursing profession. Published in the NovemberDecember edition of the journal Nursing Research, the findings describe smoking trends and death rates among U.S. nurses and emphasize the importance of supporting smoking cessation programs in the nursing field.

"Nurses witness firsthand how smoking devastates the health of their patients with cancer and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases," said principal investigator Linda Sarna, D.N.Sc, a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing. "Yet nurses struggle with nicotine addiction like the rest of the 45 million smokers in America. We are concerned that nurses who smoke may be less apt to support tobacco-control programs or encourage their patients to quit."

Sarna led a team of researchers who analyzed data from the Nurses' Health Study, a historic study on women's health. Launched at Brigham and Women's Hospital in the mid-1970s, the study relied upon surveys completed every two years by 237,648 female registered nurses about their health, including smoking habits.

"The Nurses' Health Study is the largest study of women's health in the world," Sarna said. "From a workforce perspective, however, the findings also hold a mirror up to the well-being of nurses, the largest group of health care professionals in the country."

The current UCLA research explored changes in smoking trends and death rates among female nurses enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study between 1976 and 2003, a span of 27 years.

Sarna and her colleagues compared the differences in death rates among nurses who never smoked, former smokers and current smokers. In all age groups, roughly twice as many current smokers had died in comparison to nurses who never smoked.

"Quitting smoking made a big difference in enhancing longevity, especially among nurses in their late 70s," Sar
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Contact: Elaine Schmidt
eschmidt@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2272
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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