Health Professions Programs Student Attitudes About Hookah Use

Loewen, Jill, Swati Chitre, Mathew Savaya, and Basam Shamo

Purpose: This study assessed the attitudes about hookah use among health care professions program students, including their knowledge about the health effects, both systemically and orally.

Methods: A voluntary online survey containing twenty items was conducted at participating institutions, which included dental, dental hygiene, nursing, physician assistant, addiction studies, pharmacy, and medical school programs.

Results: Out of 424 responses, 44 students stated that they are current hookah smokers, as shown in Figure 1, and over 55% of all responders have tried it. 10% of those surveyed use some other form of tobacco, cigarettes being the prevailing type. Almost half of those surveyed were unsure of the health consequences associated with hookah usage, shown in Figure 2, yet they disagreed that fruit flavored tobacco is healthier than regular tobacco. Figure 3 shows that 87% of those surveyed agreed that hookah has an effect on oral health and additionally indicated that disease transmission from the mouthpiece should be a concern when using hookah. 84% would advise patients not to use hookah, as depicted in Figure 4, and 70% agreed that it interferes with their image as a health care provider. Figure 5 shows that the amount of tar and nicotine inhaled during a hookah session was unknown to 54% of those surveyed. Of those students that are current users, 80% answered no or were unsure about stopping usage if they knew it was harmful to their health, shown on Figure 6. Those who indicated that they currently use the hookah, responded that they believed it was possible it could be stopped at any time, suggesting that they are uninformed about the addictive nature of this form of tobacco use.

Conclusion: There is a definite lack of knowledge of the effects of hookah in the surveyed future health care professionals. Further training in health professions programs on the oral and systemic effects needs to be implemented so that patients can be appropriately advised.