Smoking-related stigma expressed by physiotherapists toward individuals with lung disease

Bethany Bass, Elizabeth Lake, Chelsea Elvy, Sarah Fodemesi, Mara Iacoe, Emilie Mazik, Dina Brooks, Annemarie Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We determined the extent and nature of stigma exhibited by a sample of Canadian cardiorespiratory physiotherapists toward people with lung disease who had a smoking history. Method: A quantitative online survey was distributed to Canadian cardiorespiratory physiotherapists, and an anti-smoking attitudes questionnaire was used to measure explicit stigma. We used two case studies with questions to measure implicit stigma. The first involved a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a smoking history, and the second described a patient with COPD with no smoking history. Results: Of the respondents (n = 50), 56% demonstrated mild explicit stigma and 44% demonstrated moderate to severe explicit stigma. The extent of explicit stigma was not associated with respondents’ age, area of practice, personal smoking history, or family history of lung disease resulting from smoking. The results indicated no evidence of implicit stigma, and no significant differences were found between the participants’ prospective treatments and their professional attitudes toward patient cases. Conclusions: Canadian cardiorespiratory physiotherapists demonstrated explicit stigma toward people with lung disease with a significant smoking history, but there was no evidence of implicit stigma. These findings suggest that further research is needed to investigate how stigma held by cardiorespiratory physiotherapists may affect the quality of care provided for patients with a smoking history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-71
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiotherapy Canada
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiorespiratory physiotherapy
  • Lung diseases
  • Smoking
  • Stigmatization
  • Survey

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