vaping; e-cigarette use; electronic cigarette; e-cig use; electronic health records; EHR; young adults; adolescents; teens; smoking cessation; smoking prevention


Health Communication



Vaping is an epidemic among young people, but there is little guidance on how medical providers should counsel young adults about vaping. To address this gap, we examined how electronic health record (EHR) systems prompt providers to collect vaping data and interviewed young adults about vaping communications with providers and preferred information sources.


In this mixed methods study, we used survey research methods to explore if prompts exist in EHR systems to guide discussions about vaping with youth seen in primary care. We collected primary care practice information about EHR prompts regarding e-cigarette use from 10 rural North Carolina practices from August 2020 through November 2020 and interviewed 17 young adults (age 18-21 years) who reviewed resources and provided their opinion on the resource’s relevance for their age group. Interviews were stratified by vaping status, transcribed, coded, and thematically analyzed.


Only 5 of 10 EHR systems included prompts to capture information about vaping and data capture was optional in all 5 cases. Of the 17 interviewees, 10 were female, 14 were White, 3 were non-White and the mean age was 19.6 years. Two central themes emerged. Young adults: 1) were open to confidential, non-confrontational interactions with trusted providers and supported the use of a 2-page resource/discussion guide, questionnaires about vaping, and other waiting room resources, and 2) wanted prevention and cessation resources to be age-appropriate, including medical facts from a trusted source, and to be disseminated via social media platforms used by young adults.


We found a lack of EHR functionalities in screening for vaping status hindered patients from receiving counseling on use. Young adults report a willingness to communicate with and learn from trusted providers and to gain understanding from information accessed via social media.