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Brittany Jennings
July 16, 2021

Bethany Beznos.

Fourth-year UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy student Bethany Beznos has spent the past two years studying communication between physicians and their adolescent patients on the topics of smoking and vaping.

She was curious what conversations were taking place during pediatric visits as adolescent smoking and vaping is an important public health problem.

Beznos, along with a team which included faculty members from the School’s Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, conducted a secondary analysis of 359 transcripts of medical visits of adolescents with asthma to examine communication about caregiver and adolescent smoking and vaping.

Forty providers and 359 patients participated in the study. Of those participants, Beznos examined data from adolescents aged 11–17 years-old with persistent asthma  from four North Carolina-based pediatric clinics in 2015–2017.

Ultimately, Beznos found providers, adolescents, and their caregivers only discussed smoking during 38.2% of their visits. But to her surprise, she said vaping was never discussed, which could have been because the reviewed data was dated just before the national increase in vaping.

“We found there is room to improve how often providers in a primary care setting discuss smoking and vaping,” Beznos said.

Beznos and team’s findings were recently published in the Journal of Pediatric Health Care. “It feels really great to see [our work] come together as a finished project,” Beznos said.

Other authors on the publication include, Delesha M.Carpenter, Ph.D.; Scott A.Davis, Ph.D.; Charles Lee, M.D.; Ceila E.Loughlin, M.D.; Jessica K. Pepper M.P.H, Ph.D.; Nacire Garcia, M.S.; Gail Tudor, Ph.D.; and Betsy Sleath, Ph.D.

“Bethany did an outstanding job on this research and her results will help our research team plan future studies in this area. Preventing adolescent smoking and vaping is extremely important,” Sleath said. “Pharmacists are an important resource who could work with local pediatric and primary care clinics and schools to help educate teens about the dangers of smoking and vaping in their communities.”

Following graduation in 2022, Beznos said she plans to pursue a residency in a hospital or ambulatory care setting because she enjoys working one-on-one with patients to improve their health care needs.

Her advice for incoming pharmacy students as they pursue research topics, “Persevere. And work with professors who you can communicate with and who you are motivated by.”

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