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Computer-Facilitated 5A’s for Smoking Cessation: A Randomized Trial of Technology to Promote Provider Adherence

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Although evidence-based, the 5A's (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange) for smoking cessation are often incompletely delivered by primary care providers. This study examines whether a computer tablet 5A's intervention improves primary care provider adherence to the 5A's.

Study design

Cluster RCT.


All primary care providers in three urban, adult primary care clinics were randomized for participation. Any English- or Spanish-speaking patient with a primary care appointment who had smoked >100 lifetime cigarettes and at least one cigarette in the past week was eligible.


A cluster RCT comparing computer-facilitated 5A's with usual care assessed effects on provider adherence to each of the 5A's as determined by patient report. Intervention subjects used a computer tablet to complete the 5A's immediately before a primary care appointment. A tailored, patient handout and a structured, clinician guide were generated. Data were collected in 2014-2015 and analyzed in 2016-2017.

Main outcome measures

Provider adherence to the 5A's.


Providers (N=221) saw 961 patients (n=412 intervention, n=549 control) for a total of n=1,340 encounters with n=1,011 completed post-visit interviews (75.4% completion). Intervention providers had significantly higher odds of completing Assess (AOR=1.32, 95% CI=1.02, 1.73) and Assist (AOR=1.45, 95% CI=1.08, 1.94). When looking at first study visits only, intervention providers had higher odds for Arrange (AOR=1.72, 95% CI=1.23, 2.40) and all 5A's (AOR=2.04, 95% CI=1.35, 3.07) but study visit did not influence receipt of the other 5A's.


A computer-facilitated 5A's delivery model was effective in improving the fidelity of provider-delivered 5A's to diverse primary care patients. This relatively low-cost, time-saving intervention has great potential for smoking cessation and other health behaviors. Future studies should identify ways to promote and sustain technology implementation.

Trial registration

This study is registered at NCT02046408.

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