Fred Hutchinson, a cancer research center in Seattle, wanted to better understand current awareness and attitudes care providers at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance had surrounding smoking cessation screening and referral tool.


Without any user research, stakeholders held the assumption that an iPad application would be the best tool for both patients and providers to use to track smoking habits and encourage cessation. 

What are providers' current practices and pain points around screening cancer patients and referring them to smoking cessation treatment?


  • wrote research proposal​​​

  • designed the final presentation

  • wrote semi-structured interview questions

  • conducted interviews

  • analyzed data​ through affinity diagramming 

  • provided actionable insights and details for future work



We looked at 12 different platforms about smoking cessation to discover the strengths and weaknesses of each.

We also wanted to learn more about the space, how different organizations were tackling cessation. 


Our results showed that there were no current applications focused on provider screening or support for patients. Apps mostly focused on either motivational push notifications or gamification of cessation to get patients to quit. 




A journey map was created so we could understand a patient's flow and where the best timing would be to screen for smoking cessation would be. 

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Surveys asked about current attitudes about asking patients for smoking cessation, and perceptions of the ability to refer a patient for cessation treatment. Surveys were designed to triangulate qualitative data, and did not pose statistical significance.

However, we did generally find out that providers time consuming, and all providers recognized the importance



Referring patients to treatment was different. Providers did not feel supported by their organization to refer patients. 


Interviews looked at behaviors around asking and referring patients. 

This helped us uncover that there's variability in the way screening happens. Sometimes providers screen through an intake form, while other times they ask during an appointment. 



Referring also was not standardized. In fact, providers were not all aware they had a smoking cessation specialist on site they could refer to. 


Overall, providers felt that they had limited time with patients, and therefore had to focus on the cancer treatment and did not always have time to oversee the full scope of smoking cessation treatment. They also felt that there were limited resources offered at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance for smoking cessation treatment.  


There was wide variability in the way providers currently screen, and who they refer patients to for smoking cessation.

Creating a standardized screening intake was key to simplifying current processes.

There was interest in the tool providing follow-up data, so providers could keep track of patient's cessation success.


The tool should be integrated into existing technology for providers, who all mentioned they already have a number of devices they intake information with during appointments. 


While the project was handed off to stakeholders, our research did impact their discussions about immediate changes that could take place.

They discussed adding screening to an intake form that is emailed to patients to fill out before they arrive for an appointment.

Additionally, we helped stakeholders shift their focus from an iPad application to thinking about other technologies that would be more practical for providers and patients to utilize. 


As this was a huge learning curve, we realized our interview questions should have varied slightly to match the varied providers we spoke with.different levels of interaction with patients, and insight into this would have helped us formulate more exact questions prior to the interviews.

In addition, we would have loved to be
able to look at what blank medical records and intake paperwork looked like, so we could provide additional suggestions and insights.

We were limited to providers that had already had interest in a smoking cessation tool due to time limits and client access.

Due to HIPAA, we were constrained from conducting additional research methods that may have been useful (i.e. contextual inquiries).

Time! There were less than ten weeks to learn all about smoking cessation practices amongst cancer patients, as well as conduct the research in a short timeframe. It was worthwhile, but definitely a challenge!  

Conducting research with the patient's is definitely imperative since they are another primary user of this potential tool.

In addition, the roles of caregivers should be considered in screening, since the likelihood of patients
quitting can depend on whether their caregiver smokes or not.

Conducting research on providers who do not have buy-in to this program could also be useful to gain insight into how to best implement this universally across the organization.