Objective Financial incentives are seen as one approach to encourage more systematic use of smoking cessation interventions by healthcare professionals. A systematic review was conducted to examine the evidence for this.
Methods Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, Cochrane Library, ISI Web of Science and sources of grey literature were used as data sources. Studies were included if they reported the effects of any financial incentive provided to healthcare professionals to undertake smoking cessation-related activities. Data extraction and quality assessment for each study were conducted by one reviewer and checked by a second. A total of 18 studies were identified, consisting of 3 randomised controlled trials and 15 observational studies. All scored in the mid range for quality. In all, 8 studies examined smoking cessation activities alone and 10 studied the UK's Quality and Outcomes Framework targeting quality measures for chronic disease management including smoking recording or cessation activities. Five non-Quality and Outcomes Framework studies examined the effects of financial incentives on individual doctors and three examined effects on groups of healthcare professionals based in clinics and general practices. Most studies showed improvements in recording smoking status and smoking cessation advice. Five studies examined the impact of financial incentives on quit rates and longer-term abstinence and these showed mixed results.
Conclusions Financial incentives appear to improve recording of smoking status, and increase the provision of cessation advice and referrals to stop smoking services. Currently there is not sufficient evidence to show that financial incentives lead to reductions in smoking rates.
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Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement This is a systematic review and all data is available online from the individual included papers.
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