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Can Fam Physician. 2013 Nov;59(11):e499-506.

Front-office staff can improve clinical tobacco intervention: health coordinator pilot project.

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Healthy Heart Society of BC, Tobacco, 450-1385 W 8th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6H 3V9.



To learn whether front-line personnel in primary care practices can increase delivery of clinical tobacco interventions and also help smokers address physical inactivity, at-risk alcohol use, and depression.


Uncontrolled before-and-after design.


Vancouver, BC, area (4 practices); northern British Columbia (2 practices).


Six practices, with 1 staff person per practice serving as a "health coordinator" who tracked and, after the baseline period, delivered preventive interventions to all patients who smoked. To assess delivery of preventive interventions, each practice was to sample 300 consecutive patient records, both at baseline and at follow-up 15 months later.


Front-office staff were recruited, trained, paid, and given ongoing support to provide preventive care. Clinicians supplemented this care with advice and guided the use of medication.


Effectiveness of the intervention was based on comparison, at baseline and at follow-up, of the proportion of patients with any of the following 6 proven intervention components documented in their medical records: chart reminder, advice received, self-management plan, target quit date, referral, and follow-up date (as they applied to tobacco, physical inactivity, at-risk alcohol use, and depression). A Tobacco Intervention Flow Sheet cued preventive care, and its data were entered into a spreadsheet (which served as a smokers' registry). Qualitative appraisal data were noted.


For tobacco, substantial increases occurred after the intervention period in the proportion of patients with each of the intervention components noted in their charts: chart reminder (20% vs 94%); provision of advice (34% vs 79%); self-management plan (14% vs 57%); target quit date (5% vs 11%); referral (6% vs 11%); and follow-up date (7% vs 42%). Interventions for physical inactivity and depression showed some gains, but there were no gains for at-risk alcohol use. Front-line staff, patients, and clinicians were enthusiastic about the services offered.


Selected front-office personnel can substantially increase the delivery of evidence-based clinical tobacco intervention and increase patient and staff satisfaction in doing so. How far these findings can be generalized and their population effects require further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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