Leveraging patient reported outcomes measurement via the electronic health record to connect patients with cancer to smoking cessation treatment

Julia R. May*, Elizabeth Klass, Kristina Davis, Timothy Pearman, Steven Rittmeyer, Sheetal Kircher, Brian Hitsman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Tobacco use negatively impacts cancer treatment outcomes, yet too few providers actively support their patients in quitting. Barriers to consistently addressing tobacco use and referring to treatment include time constraints and lack of knowledge surrounding treatment options. Patient Reported Outcomes (PRO) measurement is best practice in cancer care and has potential to help address these barriers to tobacco cessation treatment. This descriptive program evaluation study reports preliminary results following implementation of a novel automated PRO tobacco use screener and referral system via the electronic health record (EHR) patient portal (MyChart) that was developed and implemented as a part of a population-based tobacco treatment program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Between June 25, 2019 and April 6, 2020, 4589 unique patients completed the screener and 164 (3.6%) unique patients screened positive for recent (past month) cigarette smoking. All patients who screened positive were automatically referred to a smoking cessation treatment program integrated within the Lurie Cancer Center, and 71 (49.7%) patients engaged in treatment, as defined by completing at least one behavioral counseling session. Preliminary results indicate that the PRO/MyChart system may improve smoker identification and increase offering of treatment and, despite the “cold call” following a positive screen, may result in a treatment engagement rate that is higher than rates of treatment engagement previously documented in oncology settings. Longer term evaluation with formal statistical testing is needed before drawing conclusions regarding effectiveness, but PRO measurement via the EHR patient portal may serve a potentially important role in a multi-component approach to reaching and engaging cancer patients in comprehensive tobacco cessation treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5034
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020


  • Cancer
  • Electronic health record
  • Oncology
  • Patient reported outcomes
  • Quality improvement
  • Smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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