BMC Medical Ethics 19 (1):2 (2018)

In many countries, there are health care initiatives to make smokers give up smoking in the peri-operative setting. There is empirical evidence that this may improve some, but not all, operative outcomes. However, it may be feared that some support for such policies stems from ethically questionable opinions, such as paternalism or anti-smoker sentiments. This study aimed at investigating the support for a policy of smoking cessation prior to surgery among Swedish physicians and members of the general public, as well as the reasons provided for this. A random sample of general practitioners and orthopaedic surgeons as well as members of the general public received a mail questionnaire. It contained a vignette case with a smoking 57-year old male farmer with hip osteoarthritis. The patient had been recommended hip replacement therapy, but told that in order to qualify for surgery he needed to give up smoking four weeks prior to and after surgery. The respondents were asked whether making such qualifying demands is acceptable, and asked to rate their agreement with pre-set arguments for and against this policy. Response rates were 58.2% among physicians and 53.8% among the general public. Of these, 83.9% and 86.6%, respectively, agreed that surgery should be made conditional upon smoking cessation. Reference to the peri-operative risks associated with smoking was the most common argument given. However, there was also strong support for the argument that such a policy is mandated in order to achieve long term health gains. There is strong support for a policy of smoking cessation prior to surgery in Sweden. This support is based on considerations of peri-operative risks as well as the general long term risks of smoking. This study indicates that paternalistic attitudes may inform some of the support for peri-operative smoking cessation policies and that at least some respondents seem to favour a “recommendation strategy” vis-à-vis smoking cessation prior to surgery rather than a “requirement strategy”. The normative reasons speak in favour of the “recommendation strategy”.
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DOI 10.1186/s12910-017-0237-2
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Health, Luck, and Justice.Shlomi Segall - 2009 - Princeton University Press.
Personal and Social Responsibility for Health.Daniel Wikler - 2002 - Ethics and International Affairs 16 (2):47-55.
Who Do We Treat First When Resources Are Scarce?Tom Walker - 2010 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (2):200-211.

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