Optimal use of the NHS Smoking Helpline: RCT investigating two types of cessation support and the option of ‘no cost’ nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
Dr Tim Coleman, Mrs Janet Ferguson and Professor Sarah Lewis
Graeme Docherty Research Coordinator, Epidemiology & Public Health, University of Nottingham
Smoking remains a public health problem but cessation interventions have shown to be cost effective. Telephone quitlines assist many motivated smokers in stopping and therefore finding optimal methods of providing effective cessation interventions via quitlines will increase the effectiveness of these services.
This randomised controlled trial compared i) proactive counselling and ii) offering no cost NRT via the NHS Smoking Helpline as compared to standard ‘reactive’ helpline support. Smokers living in England were recruited to one of four equal groups: i) standard ‘reactive’ support, ii) proactive support, iii & iv) as above with and without the offer of 6 weeks’ NRT.
2574 smokers were randomised and 39 withdrew consent, leaving 2535 for analyses. At 6 months, 18.0% in the proactive and 19.0% in the reactive groups reported cessation (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.77 to 1.15) and 17.2% of those offered NRT reported cessation compared to 19.8% not offered (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.68 to 1.02). CO validated results were not markedly different.
Offering ‘proactive’ telephone support with offer of no cost NRT does not appear to improve outcomes over the standard ‘reactive’ approach.