Feasibility of incorporating computertailored health behaviour communications in primary care settings

Christopher Sciamanna, Bess Marcus, Michael Goldstein, Kipp Lawrence, Sue Swartz, Beth Bock, Amanda Graham, David Ahern


Background We set out to investigate the feasibility of incorporating a computer-tailored health behaviour program into routine care in a group of primary care practices in Rhode Island.
Methods Two existing computer programs (physical activity, smoking) that tailored text and graphical feedback to survey responses were combined and adapted for use in primary care directly by patients. Ten primary care practices were recruited and worked closely with project staff to develop a practice-specific plan for incorporating the program into the workflow and office routine. Feasibility was measured by the percentage of patients who used the program during the day of their visit.
Results Only one of the ten offices was able to successfully incorporate the program into their office workflow and delivery of routine care. The main categories of barriers to incorporating the computer program into routine care included:
• the program was viewed overall as inconsistent with practice workflow
• the staff was inexperienced with the program
• technical problems with the computer and/or printer
• the program placed an additional time burden on staff who already felt overworked.
Suggestions for improving the program or the way that it was incorporated into routine care included:
• shortening the program
• modifying the program’s orientation to a target population (such as patients with hypertension) and incorporating decision-support feedback to help physicians manage the target condition
• modifying the program to include other programs pertinent to primary care (for example, depression screening)
• selecting patients to use the program, rather than asking all patients to use it.
Conclusions After working closely with ten highly motivated primary care offices, we were unable to fully implement a point-of-care health behaviour computer system for patients and providers. Suggestions for disseminating computer-tailored health behaviour communications in primary care settings are discussed.


computer-tailored; health behaviour; point-of-care

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v12i1.107


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