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Pediatrics. 2003 Jan;111(1):140-5.

A smoking cessation intervention for parents of children who are hospitalized for respiratory illness: the stop tobacco outreach program.

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  • 1MGH Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, General Pediatrics Division, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Boston, Massachusetts 02144, USA.



Parental smoking is associated with increased rates and severity of childhood respiratory illness. No previous studies have examined child hospitalization as an opportunity for parental smoking cessation. We evaluated the feasibility of implementing a smoking cessation intervention for parents at the time of child hospitalization for respiratory illness.


We performed a prospective cohort study of smoking parents who had a child who was admitted to an academic children's hospital for a respiratory illness between January and April 2000. All enrollees were offered the Stop Tobacco Outreach Program, which includes an initial motivational interview, written materials, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), telephone counseling, and fax referral to parents' primary clinician. The primary outcome was completion of all 3 counseling sessions. Two-month follow-up outcomes were quit attempts, cessation, NRT use, primary care visits, household smoking prohibition, and satisfaction.


A total of 126 smoking parents met eligibility criteria, and 71 (56%) enrolled in the study. Of the 71, 80% completed all counseling sessions and 56% accepted free NRT at the time of enrollment. At the 2-month follow-up, of the 71 initial enrollees, 49% reported having made a quit attempt that lasted at least 24 hours, 21% reported not smoking a cigarette in the last 7 days, 27% reported having used NRT, and 38% had had a visit with their own primary clinician. The proportion of parents who reported rules prohibiting smoking in the house increased (29% vs 71%). Parental rating of the overall usefulness of the program was 4.3 +/- 0.9 (1 standard deviation) on the 5-point scale 1 = not at all and 5 = a great extent.


This study demonstrates the feasibility of engaging parents in smoking cessation interventions at the time of child hospitalization for respiratory illness. Previous work done in a similar sample of parental smokers has shown extremely low ever-use rates of cessation programs. High rates of acceptance of in-hospital and telephone counseling in this study support the notion of child hospitalization as a teachable moment to address parental smoking.

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