Counseling Therapy Greatly Improves Rates of Smoking Cessation
November 29, 2011

Counseling Therapy Greatly Improves Rates of Smoking Cessation

Two studies released this week in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine offer hope for smokers who may have given up on quitting the habit, writes Jeannine Stein for the Los Angeles Times Booster Shots blog.

The first study utilized a practice quit-attempt program paired with nicotine therapy for smokers who weren´t motivated to quit.

A total of 849 people were used in this study by researchers in a randomized trial in a six-week practice quit-attempt program or a program that also included sampling nicotine lozenges to encourage smoking cessation.

Smokers also were able to speak to counselors by phone and received support information designed to motivate them and boost their self-assurance and coping skills.

Both groups in the first study had remarkable success in attempting to quit smoking. Eighty-five percent of those in the practice program and 82 percent of those who also had the nicotine therapy made at least one attempt to quit, reports Janice Lloyd for USA Today.

Four weeks after the program ended, 13 percent of those in the practice group and 22 percent of those who also had nicotine therapy attempted to quit for 24 hours. After 12 weeks, those numbers were 23 percent and 32 percent.

At the six-month mark, 40 percent of the practice group and 49 percent of those who also had nicotine therapy had made a quit attempt.

Lead author Anne Joseph, a physician and director of the University of Minnesota´s Applied clinical research program explained, “What we found is if you treat smoking like other health conditions and diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, you´re more likely to be successful.”

“With blood pressure, you´ll give medication to get near target goals, change diet and lifestyle and keep monitoring.”

Too often physicians do not do enough to help smokers who relapse, she says, “We often view relapse as failure and need to build in interim goals until success is achieved.”

The second study compared 443 smokers in an eight-week usual care stop-smoking program with a year-long telephone-based chronic disease management program. Five phone calls with counselors were part of the regimen along with and nicotine therapy for four weeks.

Subjects were then randomly assigned to the shorter program and received two more phone calls, or to the longer program that included additional counseling along with nicotine therapy for an additional 48 weeks.

After 18 months, rates of six-month smoking abstinence were 23.5 percent in the usual care group and 30.2 percent in the long-term care group who also made more attempts to quit than those in the usual care group.

“Considering the stagnant incidence of quit attempts in the past decade, this novel and easy-to-use cessation-induction strategy holds promise for translation to primary-care settings,” the authors conclude.


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