Barriers and facilitators to smoking cessation in pregnancy and in the post‐partum period: The health care professionals’ perspective

Felix Naughton (Lead Author), Sarah Hopewell, Lesley Sinclair, Dorothy McCaughan, Jennifer McKell, Linda Bauld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: Health care professionals and the health care environment play a central role in protecting pregnant and post‐partum women and their infants from smoking‐related harms. This study aimed to better understand the health professional's perspective on how interactions between women, health care professionals, and the environment influence how smoking is managed.

Design: Semi‐structured interviews and focus groups.

Methods: Data were from 48 health care staff involved in antenatal or post‐partum care at two UK sites, including midwives, obstetricians, health visitors, GPs, pharmacists, service commissioners, and Stop Smoking Service (SSS) advisors and managers. Thematic analysis was guided by a social–ecological framework (SEF).

Results: Themes were divided across three SEF levels and represented factors connected to the management of smoking in the health care context and the beliefs and behaviour of pregnant or post‐partum smokers. Organizational level: Service reconfigurations, ‘last resort’ nicotine replacement therapy prescribing policies, and non‐mandatory training were largely negative factors. There were mixed views on opt‐out referral pathways and positive views on carbon monoxide monitoring. Interpersonal level: Protection of client–professional relationships often inhibited frank discussions about smoking, and weak interservice relationships affected SSS referral motivation and quality. Individual level: Professionals felt community midwives had primary responsibility for managing smoking, although midwives felt underskilled doing this. Midwives’ perceived priority for addressing smoking was influenced by the demands from unrelated organizational initiatives.

Conclusions: Opportunities to improve clinical support for pregnant smokers exist at organizational, interservice, and health care professional levels. Interactions between levels reflect the importance of simultaneously addressing different level‐specific barriers to smoking cessation in pregnancy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-757
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number3
Early online date15 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


  • health professional
  • postpartum
  • pregnancy
  • qualitative
  • smoking
  • smoking cessation
  • social‐ecological model

Cite this