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Assessing, updating and utilising primary care smoking records for lung cancer screening

McCutchan, Grace ORCID:, Engela-Volker, Jean, Anyanwu, Philip, Brain, Kate, Abel, Nicole and Eccles, Sinan 2023. Assessing, updating and utilising primary care smoking records for lung cancer screening. BMC Pulmonary Medicine 23 , 445. 10.1186/s12890-023-02746-4

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Background: Lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography for high-risk populations is being implemented in the UK. However, inclusive identification and invitation of the high-risk population is a major challenge for equitable lung screening implementation. Primary care electronic health records (EHRs) can be used to identify lung screening-eligible individuals based on age and smoking history, but the quality of EHR smoking data is limited. This study piloted a novel strategy for ascertaining smoking status in primary care and tested EHR search combinations to identify those potentially eligible for lung cancer screening. Methods: Seven primary care General Practices in South Wales, UK were included. Practice-level data on missing tobacco codes in EHRs were obtained. To update patient EHRs with no tobacco code, we developed and tested an algorithm that sent a text message request to patients via their GP practice to update their smoking status. The patient’s response automatically updated their EHR with the relevant tobacco code. Four search strategies using different combinations of tobacco codes for the age range 55-74+ 364 were tested to estimate the likely impact on the potential lung screening-eligible population in Wales. Search strategies included: BROAD (wide range of ever smoking codes); VOLUME (wide range of ever-smoking codes excluding “trivial” former smoking); FOCUSED (cigarette-related tobacco codes only), and RECENT (current smoking within the last 20 years). Results: Tobacco codes were not recorded for 3.3% of patients (n = 724/21,956). Of those with no tobacco code and a validated mobile telephone number (n = 333), 55% (n = 183) responded via text message with their smoking status. Of the 183 patients who responded, 43.2% (n = 79) had a history of smoking and were potentially eligible for lung cancer screening. Applying the BROAD search strategy was projected to result in an additional 148,522 patients eligible to receive an invitation for lung cancer screening when compared to the RECENT strategy. Conclusion: An automated text message system could be used to improve the completeness of primary care EHR smoking data in preparation for rolling out a national lung cancer screening programme. Varying the search strategy for tobacco codes may have profound implications for the size of the population eligible for lung-screening invitation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1471-2466
Funders: Health and Care Research Wales (grant no. 517190)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 17 November 2023
Date of Acceptance: 2 November 2023
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 10:00

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