Improving smoking cessation counseling using a point-of-care health intervention tool (IT): from the Virginia Practice Support and Research Network (VaPSRN)

J Am Board Fam Med. 2013 Mar-Apr;26(2):116-25. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2013.02.110078.


Purpose: Primary care practices are an ideal setting for reducing national smoking rates because >70% of smokers visit their physician annually, yet smoking cessation counseling is inconsistently delivered to patients. We designed and created a novel software program for handheld computers and hypothesized that it would improve clinicians' ability to provide patient-tailored smoking cessation counseling at the point of care.

Methods: A handheld computer software program was created based on smoking cessation guidelines and an adaptation of widely accepted behavioral change theories. The tool was evaluated using a validated before/after survey to measure physician smoking cessation counseling behaviors, knowledge, and comfort/self-efficacy.

Results: Participants included 17 physicians (mean age, 41 years; 71% male; 5 resident physicians) from a practice-based research network. After 4 months of use in direct patient care, physicians were more likely to advise patients to stop smoking (P = .049) and reported an increase in use of the "5 As" (P = .03). Improved self-efficacy in counseling patients regarding smoking cessation (P = .006) was seen, as was increased comfort in providing follow-up to patients (P = .04).

Conclusions: Use of a handheld computer software tool improved smoking cessation counseling among physicians and shows promise for translating evidence about smoking cessation counseling into practice and educational settings.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computers, Handheld*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physicians, Primary Care
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Software
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Virginia