Background: Although office-based and telephone support services enhance the rate of smoking cessation in managed care systems, it is not clear whether such services are effective for very low-income smokers. We evaluated the comparative effectiveness of usual care (physician-delivered advice and follow-up) and usual care enhanced by 6 computer-assisted telephonic-counseling sessions by office nurses and telephone counselors for smoking cessation in very low-income smokers in Medicaid managed care.
Methods: A randomized clinical trial comparing the 2 approaches was conducted in 3 Michigan community health centers. All clinicians and center staff received standard training in usual care. Selected nurses and telephone counselors received special training in a computer-assisted counseling program focusing on relapse prevention.
Results: The majority of the study population (233 adult smokers with telephones) were white (64%) women (70%) with annual incomes of less than $10,000 (79%) and with prescriptions of nicotine replacement therapy (>90%). At 3 months, quit rates (smoke-free status verified by carbon monoxide monitors) were 8.1% in the usual-care group and 21% in the telephonic-counseling group (P=.009) by intention-to-treat analysis. Special tracking methods were successful in maintaining participants in treatment.
Conclusions: Smoking cessation rates are enhanced in a population of very low-income smokers if individualized telephonic-counseling is provided. State and Medicaid managed care plans should consider investing in both office-based nurse and centralized telephonic-counseling services for low-income smokers.