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Effectiveness of computer-tailored smoking cessation advice in primary care (ESCAPE): a randomised trial

By Hazel Gilbert, Irwin Nazareth, Stephen Sutton, Richard Morris and Christine Godfrey


Background: Smoking remains a major public health problem; developing effective interventions to encourage more quit attempts, and to improve the success rate of self-quit attempts, is essential to reduce the numbers of people who smoke. Interventions for smoking cessation can be characterised in two extremes: the intensive face-to face therapy of the clinical approach, and large-scale, public health interventions and policy initiatives. Computer-based systems offer a method for generating highly tailored behavioural feedback letters, and can bridge the gap between these two extremes. Proactive mailing and recruitment can also serve as a prompt to motivate smokers to make quit attempts or to seek more intensive help. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of personally tailored feedback reports, sent to smokers identified from general practitioners lists on quit rates and quitting activity. The trial uses a modified version of a computer-based system developed by two of the authors to generate individually tailored feedback reports. Method: A random sample of cigarette smokers, aged between 18 and 65, identified from GP records at a representative selection of practices registered with the GPRF are sent a questionnaire. Smokers returning the questionnaire are randomly allocated to a control group to receive usual care and standard information, or to an intervention group to receive usual care and standard information plus tailored feedback reports. Smoking status and cognitive change will be assessed by postal questionnaire at 6-months. Discussion: Computer tailored personal feedback, adapted to reading levels and motivation to quit, is a simple and inexpensive intervention which could be widely replicated and delivered cost effectively to a large proportion of the smoking population. Given its recruitment potential, a modest success rate could have a large effect on public health. The intervention also fits into the broader scope of tobacco control, by prompting more quit attempts, and increasing referrals to specialised services. The provision of this option to smokers in primary care can complement existing services, and work synergistically with other measures to produce more quitters and reduce the prevalence of smoking in the UK. Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN05385712

Topics: 2701, 2736
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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