Objectives: To investigate the effectiveness of telephone counselling as an adjunct to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) by transdermal patch in smoking cessation.
Design: Randomised controlled trial.
Participants and setting: 854 smokers from New South Wales, aged 18 years and older, who had smoked at least 10 cigarettes per day for the past year and responded to newspaper advertisements between October 2001 and January 2002; the trial was conducted between October 2001 and August 2002.
Interventions: Random allocation to either NRT alone or NRT plus telephone counselling (5 sessions spaced according to a relapse-sensitive call schedule).
Main outcome measures: Self-reported abstinence assessed by telephone questionnaires at 1, 2, 3 and 6 months: 28-day continuous abstinence at 3 and 6 months, and 90-day continuous abstinence at 6 months.
Results: 28-day continuous abstinence rates among participants receiving telephone counselling were significantly greater than among those not receiving telephone counselling at both 3 and 6 months (31.6% v 25.1%; P = 0.04 at 3 months; and 30.1% v 22.4%; P = 0.01 at 6 months). Similarly, 90-day continuous abstinence rates at 6 months were significantly greater for participants receiving counselling (26.7% v 18.6%; P = 0.004).
Conclusion: Telephone counselling as an adjunct to NRT increases abstinence rates beyond the use of NRT alone.