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Psychiatry Res. 2013 Jan 30;205(1-2):159-64. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.08.030. Epub 2012 Sep 15.

Selection of intervention components in an internet stop smoking participant preference trial: beyond randomized controlled trials.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


To address health problems that have a major impact on global health requires research designs that go beyond randomized controlled trials. One such design, the participant preference trial, provides additional information in an ecologically valid manner, once intervention efficacy has been demonstrated. The current study presents illustrative data from a participant preference trial of an internet-based smoking cessation intervention. Participants (N=7763) from 124 countries accessed the intervention and were allowed to choose from nine different site components to aid their quit attempt. Of consenting participants, 36.7% completed at least one follow-up assessment. Individuals with depression were more likely to choose a mood management module and participants who smoked a higher number of cigarettes were more likely to choose a cigarette counter and a nicotine replacement therapy guide. Furthermore, depressed participants selecting the mood management component were more likely to report at least one successful 7 day quit (37.2% vs. 22.2%) in the 12 months following the intervention. Thus, participants with depressive symptoms appear to make choices on the basis of their needs and to benefit from these decisions. This suggests that providing the ability to customize previously validated resources may be a successful way to widely disseminate interventions.

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