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.