Aim: To assess the effectiveness of a program of computer-generated tailored advice for callers to a telephone helpline, and to assess whether it enhanced a series of callback telephone counselling sessions in aiding smoking cessation.
Design: Randomized controlled trial comparing: (1) untailored self-help materials; (2) computer-generated tailored advice only, and (3) computer-generated tailored advice plus callback telephone counselling. Assessment surveys were conducted at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months.
Setting: Victoria, Australia.
Participants: A total of 1578 smokers who called the Quitline service and agreed to participate.
Measurements: Smoking status at follow-up; duration of cessation, if quit; use of nicotine replacement therapy; and extent of participation in the callback service.
Findings: At the 3-month follow-up, significantly more (chi2(2) = 16.9; P < 0.001) participants in the computer-generated tailored advice plus telephone counselling condition were not smoking (21%) than in either the computer-generated advice only (12%) or the control condition (12%). Proportions reporting not smoking at the 12-month follow-up were 26%, 23% and 22%, respectively (NS) for point prevalence, and for 9 months sustained abstinence; 8.2, 6.0, and 5.0 (NS). In the telephone counselling group, those receiving callbacks were more likely than those who did not to have sustained abstinence at 12 months (10.2 compared with 4.0, P < 0.05). Logistic regression on 3-month data showed significant independent effects on cessation of telephone counselling and use of NRT, but not of computer-generated tailored advice.
Conclusion: Computer-generated tailored advice did not enhance telephone counselling, nor have any independent effect on cessation. This may be due to poor timing of the computer-generated tailored advice and poor integration of the two modes of advice.