12-Month Evaluation of an EHR-Supported Staff Role Change for Provision of Tobacco Cessation Care in 8 Primary Care Safety-Net Clinics

Susan A. Flocke, Eileen Seeholzer, Steven A. Lewis, India J. Gill, Jeanmarie C. Rose, Elizabeth Albert, Thomas E. Love, David Kaelber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Significance: Guidelines urge primary care practices to routinely provide tobacco cessation care (i.e., assess tobacco use, provide brief cessation advice, and refer to cessation support). This study evaluates the impact of a systems-based strategy to provide tobacco cessation care in eight primary care clinics serving low-income patients. Methods: A non-randomized stepped wedge study design was used to implement an intervention consisting of (1) changes to the electronic health record (EHR) referral functionality and (2) expansion of staff roles to provide brief advice to quit; assess readiness to quit; offer a referral to tobacco cessation counseling; and sign the referral order. Outcomes assessed from the EHR include performance of tobacco cessation care tasks, referral contact, and enrollment rates for the quitline (QL) and in-house Freedom from Smoking (FFS) program. Generalized estimating equations (GEE) methods were used to compute odds ratios contrasting the pre-implementation vs. 1-, 3-, 6-, and 12-month post-implementation periods. Results: Of the 176,061 visits, 26.1% were by identified tobacco users. All indicators significantly increased at each time period evaluated post-implementation. In comparison with the pre-intervention period, assessing smoking status (26.6% vs. 55.7%; OR = 3.7, CI = 3.6–3.9), providing advice (44.8% vs. 88.7%; OR = 7.8, CI = 6.6–9.1), assessing readiness to quit (15.8% vs. 55.0%; OR = 6.2, CI = 5.4–7.0), and acceptance of a referral to tobacco cessation counseling (0.5% vs. 30.9%; OR = 81.0, CI = 11.4–575.8) remained significantly higher 12 months post-intervention. For the QL and FFS, respectively, there were 1223 and 532 referrals; 324 (31.1%) and 103 (24.7%) were contacted; 241 (74.4%) and 72 (69.6%) enrolled; and 195 (80.9%) and 14 (19.4%) received at least one counseling session. Conclusions: This system change intervention that includes an EHR-supported role expansion substantially increased the provision of tobacco cessation care and improvements were sustained beyond 1 year. This approach has the potential to greatly increase the number of individuals referred for tobacco cessation counseling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3234-3242
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • EHR
  • community linkages
  • primary care
  • quitline
  • tobacco cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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