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A randomised controlled trial of proactive telephone counselling on cold-called smokers' cessation rates
  1. Flora Tzelepis1,
  2. Christine L Paul1,
  3. John Wiggers2,
  4. Raoul A Walsh1,
  5. Jenny Knight2,
  6. Sarah L Duncan1,
  7. Christophe Lecathelinais1,
  8. Afaf Girgis1,
  9. Justine Daly2
  1. 1Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology (CHeRP), Cancer Council New South Wales, University of Newcastle & Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Hunter New England Population Health (HNEPH), Hunter New England Area Health Service, University of Newcastle & Hunter Medical Research Institute, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Flora Tzelepis, Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology (CHeRP), University of Newcastle, Room 230A, Level 2, David Maddison Building, Callaghan NSW 2308 Australia; flora.tzelepis{at}newcastle.edu.au

Abstract

Objectives Active telephone recruitment (‘cold calling’) can enrol almost 45 times more smokers to cessation services than media. However, the effectiveness of proactive telephone counselling with cold-called smokers from the broader community is unknown. This study examined whether proactive telephone counselling improved abstinence, quit attempts and reduced cigarette consumption among cold-called smokers.

Methods From 48 014 randomly selected electronic telephone directory numbers, 3008 eligible smokers were identified and 1562 (51.9%) smokers recruited into the randomised controlled trial. Of these, 769 smokers were randomly allocated to proactive telephone counselling and 793 to the control (ie, mailed self-help) conditions. Six counselling calls were offered to intervention smokers willing to quit within a month and four to those not ready to quit. The 4-month, 7-month and 13-month follow-up interviews were completed by 1369 (87.6%), 1278 (81.8%) and 1245 (79.9%) participants, respectively.

Results Proactive telephone counselling participants were significantly more likely than controls to achieve 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 4 months (13.8% vs 9.6%, p=0.005) and 7 months (14.3% vs 11.0%, p=0.02) but not at 13 months. There was a significant impact of telephone counselling on prolonged abstinence at 4 months (3.4% vs 1.8%, p=0.02) and at 7 months (2.2% vs 0.9%, p=0.02). At 4 months post recruitment, telephone counselling participants were significantly more likely than controls to have made a quit attempt (48.6% vs 42.9%, p=0.01) and reduced cigarette consumption (16.9% vs 9.0%, p=0.0002).

Conclusions Proactive telephone counselling initially increased abstinence and quitting behaviours among cold-called smokers. Given its superior reach, quitlines should consider active telephone recruitment, provided relapse can be reduced.

Trial registration Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry; ACTRN012606000221550.

  • Telephone counselling
  • quitline
  • smoking cessation
  • randomised controlled trial
  • addiction
  • cessation

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Footnotes

  • Funding Funding was received from the Australian Research Council, National Heart Foundation, Hunter New England Population Health and the Cancer Council NSW.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Newcastle Human Research Ethics Committee and the Hunter New England Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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