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Am J Prev Med. 2011 Jul;41(1):17-23. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.03.012.

Support-person promotion of a smoking quitline: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.



Quitlines and other evidence-based cessation treatments are greatly underutilized by smokers, limiting their public health impact. Social support is correlated with successful cessation. Thus, efforts targeting the social network of smokers could be a potential avenue to promote quitline utilization.


This study examined the efficacy of an intervention for nonsmokers interested in helping a smoker (i.e., support people) to promote smoker utilization of the Minnesota QUITPLAN(®) Helpline. Data were collected from 2007 to 2010, and analyses were conducted from 2010 to 2011.


Two-group randomized design evaluating the support-person intervention (n=267) compared with a control condition (written materials, n=267).


Enrolled were 534 support people (91% female, 93% Caucasian) residing in Minnesota.


Written materials plus three weekly telephone sessions lasting 10-30 minutes each. Based on Cohen's theory of social support, the intervention provided participants with information and skills needed to encourage their smoker to call the QUITPLAN Helpline.


Participants completed the Support Provided Measure (SPM) by mail at baseline and Week 4 (end-of-treatment). Helpline intake staff documented smoker calls to the Helpline through 6 months of follow-up.


The proportion of calls to the Helpline was significantly (p=0.012) greater for smokers linked to support people in the intervention group (16.1%, 43/267) than in the control group (8.6%, 23/267). The treatment effect remained significant after adjusting for support person residing with the smoker (OR=2.04, 95% CI=1.19, 3.49, p=0.010). Among support people randomly assigned to the intervention group, greater number of sessions completed was associated with increased smokers' calls to the Helpline (p=0.004). After adjusting for the baseline score, the M±SD SPM score at Week 4 was significantly higher for support people in the intervention group (16.4±3.3) than for those in the control group (15.3±3.6), p=0.002.


A support-person intervention is effective in increasing smoker utilization of the QUITPLAN Helpline. There is potential for increasing the reach of quitlines by targeting the social network of smokers. TRIAL REGISTRATION #: NCT01311830.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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