College health providers’ knowledge and confidence in addressing college students’ vaping



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Aims: There has been a call for health providers to increase their awareness and confidence when discussing vaping with college students. This may be particularly relevant given the rapidly changing vape landscape. Vaping nicotine or cannabis products is popular, and rates of vaping are typically higher among younger adults compared to mid-aged or older adults. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the knowledge and confidence of college healthcare providers regarding vaping among college students.

Methods: Pilot data was collected from 51 college health providers located at 26 colleges in the 64-campus State University of New York (SUNY) system. Knowledge of vaping was assessed using a number of items, including, “Do you find students on your campus use electronic cigarettes more often for vaping nicotine or for vaping cannabis?” Response options were: nicotine, cannabis, don’t know. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize the study findings.

Results: College health providers agree (76%) that vaping is a problem on their campus. They largely felt knowledgeable (80.9%) and confident (87.8%) in discussing vaping. However, the majority (67%) of these health providers reported they “don’t know” what product college students are vaping. Importantly, most indicate learning about vaping is a priority area (74%), and indicate they have time to learn more about vaping (82%).

Conclusions: Overall, findings indicate a potential disconnect between providers’ perceived and actual knowledge of college student vaping. Understanding what products students are using, whether alone or in combination, will help to tailor messaging to students and inform prevention and intervention initiatives. These findings, as a whole, demonstrate areas of opportunity to assist college health providers in comprehensively addressing vaping with their college student populations. Future research is needed to better understand from where health providers are obtaining their knowledge of vaping, and if this knowledge is, in fact, accurate.

Publication Date

Spring 2021

College health providers’ knowledge and confidence in addressing college students’ vaping