Background: A majority of physicians do not adhere to all the elements of the evidence-based USPHS guideline on tobacco use and dependence treatment. Among physicians and clinic office managers in Vermont we assessed perceived barriers to guideline adherence. We then assessed attitudes towards a computer-mediated clinical decision support system (CDSS) to gauge whether this type of intervention could support performance of the guideline.
Methods: A random sample of 600 Vermont primary care and subspecialty physicians were surveyed with a mailed survey instrument. A separate survey instrument was mailed to the census of 93 clinic office managers.
Results: The response rates of physicians and clinic office managers were 67% and 76%, respectively. Though most physicians were aware of the guideline and had positive attitudes towards it, there was a lack of familiarity with Vermont's smoking cessation resources as 35% would refer smokers to non-existent counseling resources and only 48% would refer patients to a toll-free quit line. Time constraints and the perception that smokers are unreceptive to counseling were the two most common barriers cited by both physicians and office managers. The vast majority of physicians (92%) have access to a computer in their outpatient clinics, and 68% have used computers during the course of a patient's visit. Four of the eight information management services that a CDSS could provide were highly valued by both physicians and clinic office managers.
Conclusions: Interventions to improve adherence to the guideline should address the inaccurate perception that smokers are unreceptive to counseling, and physicians' lack of familiarity with resources. A CDSS may improve knowledge of these resources if the design addresses cost, space, and time limitations.