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BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2016 Apr 19;16:44. doi: 10.1186/s12911-016-0284-5.

Perceptions of clinicians and staff about the use of digital technology in primary care: qualitative interviews prior to implementation of a computer-facilitated 5As intervention.

Author information

Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Box 0856, 3333 California Street, Suite 335, San Francisco, CA, 94118, USA.
Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, UCSF, Box 0320, 1545 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA, 94115, USA.
Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, 50 Staniford St, 9th Floor, Boston, MA, 02114, USA.
UCSF, Box 1364, 1001 Potrero Ave., San Francisco General Hospital 90, Room 1311E, San Francisco, USA.
Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, UCSF, Box 0320, 2200 Post St., MZ Bldg C Room C126B, San Francisco, CA, 94115, USA.
Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, UCSF, Box 1731, 1701 Divisadero St., Room 500, San Francisco, CA, 94115, USA.



Digital health interventions using hybrid delivery models may offer efficient alternatives to traditional behavioral counseling by addressing obstacles of time, resources, and knowledge. Using a computer-facilitated 5As (ask, advise, assess, assist, arrange) model as an example (CF5As), we aimed to identify factors from the perspectives of primary care providers and clinical staff that were likely to influence introduction of digital technology and a CF5As smoking cessation counseling intervention. In the CF5As model, patients self-administer a tablet intervention that provides 5As smoking cessation counseling, produces patient and provider handouts recommending next steps, and is followed by a patient-provider encounter to reinforce key cessation messages, provide assistance, and arrange follow-up.


Semi-structured in-person interviews of administrative and clinical staff and primary care providers from three primary care clinics.


Thirty-five interviews were completed (12 administrative staff, ten clinical staff, and 13 primary care providers). Twelve were from an academic internal medicine practice, 12 from a public hospital academic general medicine clinic, and 11 from a public hospital HIV clinic. Most were women (91 %); mean age (SD) was 42 years (11.1). Perceived usefulness of the CF5As focused on its relevance for various health behavior counseling purposes, potential gains in counseling efficiency, confidentiality of data collection, occupying patients while waiting, and serving as a cue to action. Perceived ease of use was viewed to depend on the ability to accommodate: clinic workflow; heavy patient volumes; and patient characterisitics, e.g., low literacy. Social norms potentially affecting implementation included beliefs in the promise/burden of technology, priority of smoking cessation counseling relative to other patient needs, and perception of CF5As as just "one more thing to do" in an overburdened system. The most frequently cited facilitating conditions were staffing levels and smoking cessation resources and training; the most cited hindering factors were visit time constraints and patients' complex health care needs.


Integrating CF5As and other technology-enhanced behavioral counseling interventions in primary care requires flexibility to accommodate work flow and perceptions of overload in dynamic environments. Identifying factors that promote and hinder CF5As adoption could inform implementation of other CF behavioral health interventions in primary care.


5As; Computer technology; Primary care; Smoking cessation counseling; Tobacco addiction

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