Background: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Smoking Cessation Clinical Practice Guideline recommends that all clinicians strongly advise their patients who use tobacco to quit.
Methods: We conducted a randomized, controlled trial of the effectiveness of Guideline implementation at eight community-based primary care clinics in southern Wisconsin (four test sites, four control sites) among 2163 consecutively enrolled adult patients who smoked at least one cigarette per day and presented for nonemergency care during the baseline period (June 16, 1999, to June 20, 2000) or the intervention period (from June 21, 2000, to May 3, 2001). After collecting baseline data, staff at test sites implemented the intervention over a 2-month period. The intervention included a tutorial for intake clinicians, group and individual performance feedback for intake clinicians, use of a modified vital signs stamp, an offer of free nicotine replacement therapy, and proactive telephone counseling. Staff at control sites received only general information about the AHRQ Guideline. Self-reported abstinence from smoking was determined by telephone interviews at 2- and 6-month follow-up assessments. Hierarchical logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) for treatment assignment after adjustment for patient characteristics. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences in smoking cessation rates between participants at test and control sites during the baseline period. Among participants treated during the intervention period, those at test sites were more likely than those at control sites to report being abstinent at the 2-month (16.4% versus 5.8%; adjusted OR = 3.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.9 to 5.6; P<.001) and 6-month (15.4% versus 9.8%; adjusted OR = 1.7, 95% CI = 1.2 to 2.6; P =.009) follow-up assessments and to report continuous abstinence, that is, abstinence at both 2 and 6 months (10.9% versus 3.8%; adjusted OR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.8 to 6.3; P<.001).
Conclusion: Implementation of a guideline-based smoking cessation intervention by intake clinicians in primary care is associated with higher abstinence among smokers.