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Prev Chronic Dis. 2013 May 23;10:E84. doi: 10.5888/pcd10.120132.

Use of practice-based research network data to measure neighborhood smoking prevalence.

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Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs) and health systems may provide timely, reliable data to guide the development and distribution of public health resources to promote healthy behaviors, such as quitting smoking. The objective of this study was to determine if PBRN data could be used to make neighborhood-level estimates of smoking prevalence.


We estimated the smoking prevalence in 32 greater Boston neighborhoods (population = 877,943 adults) by using the electronic health record data of adults who in 2009 visited one of 26 Partners Primary Care PBRN practices (n = 77,529). We compared PBRN-derived estimates to population-based estimates derived from 1999-2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data (n = 20,475).


The PBRN estimates of neighborhood smoking status ranged from 5% to 22% and averaged 11%. The 2009 neighborhood-level smoking prevalence estimates derived from the BRFSS ranged from 5% to 26% and averaged 13%. The difference in smoking prevalence between the PBRN and the BRFSS averaged -2 percentage points (standard deviation, 3 percentage points).


Health behavior data collected during routine clinical care by PBRNs and health systems could supplement or be an alternative to using traditional sources of public health data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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