Sending a personalized risk letter and invitation effectively increased attendance to Stop Smoking Services in the United Kingdom, according to recent findings.
“Government-funded specialist smoking cessation services, now known as NHS Stop Smoking Services, were established by primary care trusts throughout England in 2000, to help and support smokers to quit. These services are effective, with quit rates of around 35% at 4 weeks,” Hazel Gilbert, PhD, of University College London, and colleagues wrote. “This quit rate is higher than if the smokers attending [Stop Smoking Services] had received only a prescription for a stop smoking medication. However, despite the increased probability of success, fewer than 5% of smokers attend the [Stop Smoking Services] each year and, since 2012, figures have shown a continuing downward trend.”
To determine efficacy of a personalized intervention for attendance at Stop Smoking Services, researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial in 18 Stop Smoking Service courses in England. Individuals who gave consent, were motivated to quit smoking and who had not attended smoking cessation services within the past year were randomly assigned to receive an individually tailored risk letter and invitation to a non-committal introductory session at a local course (n = 2,636) or a standard generic letter advertising the local course (n = 1,748).
Attendance at the first session of a Stop Smoking Services course was significantly higher among participants who received an individually tailored risk letter, compared with those who received a standard letter (17.4% vs. 9%; unadjusted OR = 2.12; 95% CI, 1.75-2.57; P < .0001).
“The robust and impressive findings from the Start2quit trial provide clear evidence for how to improve the delivery of a highly cost-effective lifesaving medical intervention,” K. Michael Cummings, MD, MPH, and Matthew J. Carpenter, PhD, of the University of South Carolina, wrote in an accompanying editorial. “The findings also provide further support for the U.K. [Stop Smoking Services] overall. Government authorities should resist any cost-cutting suggestions to decrease support for the [Stop Smoking Services] on the basis of the obvious and well documented benefits achieved when smokers are enrolled in these services.” – by Amanda Oldt
Disclosure: Gilbert reports no relevant financial disclosures. Cummings reports receiving grant funding from Pfizer to study the effect of a hospital-based tobacco cessation intervention and has funding as an expert witness in litigation filed against the tobacco industry.