467 Electronic health records support smoking cessation

September 27, 2015

written by Brian R McAvoy.

Clinical question
How effective are electronic health records in supporting smoking cessation?

Bottom line
Documentation of tobacco status and referral to cessation counselling appeared to increase following electronic health record (EHR) modifications designed to prompt the recording and treating of tobacco use at healthcare visits. The most common enhancement of the EHR was the linking of smoking patients with a telephone-based quitline (9/16 studies). Study length varied from a few days to 19 months.

None of the studies included a direct assessment of patient quit rates. Nine of the 16 trials were observational studies, so were lower quality than randomised controlled trials. Overall, these studies found only modest improvements in some of the recommended clinician actions on tobacco use.


Health information systems such as EHRs, computerised decision support systems and electronic prescribing are potentially valuable components to improve the quality and efficiency of clinical interventions for tobacco use.

Cochrane Systematic Review
Boyle R et al. Use of electronic health records to support smoking cessation. Cochrane Reviews, 2014, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD008743.DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD008743.pub3. This review contains 16 studies (total number of participants not stated).

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.