Assessment of compliance with U.S. Public Health Service clinical practice guideline for tobacco by primary care physicians

Harm Reduct J. 2015 Mar 7:12:7. doi: 10.1186/s12954-015-0044-3.


Background: The US Public Health Service clinical practice guideline treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 update established an expanded standard of care, calling on physicians to consistently identify their patients who use tobacco and treat them using counseling and medication.

Findings: To assess compliance, we examined the extent to which physicians self-report following four of the five components of the 5A model: Ask about tobacco use, Advise patients who use tobacco to quit, Assist the patient in making a quit attempt, and Arrange for follow-up care. We used data from a Web-based panel survey administered to a convenience sample of 1,253 primary care providers (family/general practitioners, internists, and obstetrician/gynecologists). We found that 97.1% of the providers reported that they consistently Asked and documented tobacco use, while 98.6% reported that they consistently Advised their patients to quit using tobacco. Among the family/general practitioners and internists, 98.3% recommended "any" (medication, counseling, counseling and medication, telephone quitline) smoking cessation strategies (Assist). Among all providers, 48.0% reported that they consistently scheduled a follow-up visit (Arrange).

Conclusions: This study revealed that most primary care physicians reported that they Ask their patients about tobacco use, Advise them to quit, and Assist them in making a quit attempt, but only half reported that they Arrange a follow-up visit. Tobacco use screening and intervention are among the most effective clinical preventive services; thus, efforts to educate, encourage, and support primary care physicians to provide evidence-based treatments to their patients should be continued.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Counseling / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Primary Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Public Health Practice / statistics & numerical data
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / therapy*
  • United States
  • United States Public Health Service*