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Addiction. 2008 Jun;103(6):998-1006; discussion 1007-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02206.x. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

The effect of proactively identifying smokers and offering smoking cessation support in primary care populations: a cluster-randomized trial.

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Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.



To establish whether proactively identifying all smokers in primary care populations and offering smoking cessation support is effective in increasing long-term abstinence from smoking.


Cluster randomized controlled trial.


Twenty-four general practices in Nottinghamshire, randomized by practice to active or control intervention.


All adult patients registered with the practices who returned a questionnaire confirming that they were current smokers (n = 6856).


Participants were offered smoking cessation support by letter and those interested in receiving it were contacted and referred into National Health Service (NHS) stop smoking services if required.


Validated abstinence from smoking, use of smoking cessation services and number of quit attempts in continuing smokers at 6 months.


Smokers in the intervention group were more likely than controls to report that they had used local cessation services during the study period [16.6% and 8.9%, respectively, adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.09, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.57-2.78], and continuing smokers (in the intervention group) were more likely to have made a quit attempt in the last 6 months (37.4% and 33.3%, respectively, adjusted OR 1.23, 95% CI 1.01-1.51). Validated point prevalence abstinence from smoking at 6 months was higher in the intervention than the control groups (3.5% and 2.5%, respectively) but the difference was not statistically significant (adjusted OR controlling for covariates: 1.64, 95% CI 0.92-2.89).


Proactively identifying smokers who want to quit in primary care populations, and referring them to a cessation service, increased contacts with cessation services and the number of quit attempts. We were unable to detect a significant effect on long-term cessation rates, but the study was not powered to detect the kind of difference that might be expected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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