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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: BMC Public Health.

Volume 20, Issue 1, 20 July 2020, Article number 1145.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1186/s12889-020-09265-5

Copyright © 2020 The Author(s)

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Publication made possible in part by support from the Jefferson Open Access Fund


BACKGROUND: Health care providers play a pivotal role as educators on health-related matters ranging from vaccination to smoking cessation. With the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), providers face a new challenge. To date, studies have identified a general lack of knowledge among providers regarding e-cigarettes and discomfort with counseling patients on e-cigarette use. This study aims to systematically explore the perspectives of different health care providers on e-cigarettes and their health implications. With a growing availability of research on the health consequences of e-cigarette use, our study also aims to assess the familiarity of our participants with this literature.

METHODS: From July to October 2018, a sample of attendings (n = 15), residents (n = 15), medical students (n = 33), and nursing students (n = 28) from Thomas Jefferson University participated in a freelisting interview and survey.

RESULTS: Our study found that perceptions of e-cigarettes vary across different participant groups, as evidenced by the range of responses when asked to think about e-cigarettes and their health implications. We identified gaps in knowledge among students regarding FDA regulation of e-cigarettes and found that attending physicians are less aware than junior trainees of the prevalence of use. Familiarity with evidence-based health consequences was variable and low across all groups. Finally, participants most commonly reported learning about e-cigarettes from news outlets and social media rather than professional platforms.

CONCLUSION: This study highlights the need for curricular development in nursing and medical schools, residency training, and continuing medical education regarding e-cigarette use and their impact on human health.

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