A study by the Minneapolis-based HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research shows that use of a computer-assisted tobacco intervention (CATI) tool can dramatically increase patient referral to intervention resources.

The tool itself is embedded in the patient’s electronic dental record (EDR), and requires the dental provider to assess four health behavior variables for any patient who reports that they use tobacco. These variables include the number of cigarettes smoked daily, how soon on waking the first cigarette was smoked, the patient’s interest in quitting, and the number of previous quit attempts. Based on the answers, the EDR automatically calculates a dependency score and produces a script for the provider to communicate to the patient, with the goal of referring him or her to a tobacco quit line.

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