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Am J Public Health. 1996 Dec;86(12):1786-90.

Promoting abstinence among relapsed chronic smokers: the effect of telephone support.

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Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55454-1015, USA.



The present study used telephone support both to sustain abstinence and to encourage renewed quit attempts in smokers who had completed an intensive smoking cessation clinic.


Subjects were hard-core smokers (n = 1083) who had attended a multisession cessation clinic. They were then assigned randomly to receive telephone support (intervention calls 3, 9, and 21 months after the targeted cessation clinic quit date) or no further intervention.


In the intervention condition, subjects who relapsed were significantly more likely to resume abstinence (that is, to recycle) than those in the comparison condition at follow-up (6 months: 17.8% vs 11.3%; 24 months: 25.7% vs 18.2%). Telephone support was not effective in preventing relapse, and overall differences in abstinence outcome were not significant.


The major hypothesis of the current study--that telephone support would enhance the resumption of abstinence--received partial support. However, there was no evidence either of an overall treatment effect or of an effect in preventing relapse. Telephone outreach may be more effective in the context of self-help or other less intensive interventions.

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