Are non-responders in a quitline evaluation more likely to be smokers?

BMC Public Health. 2005 May 23;5:52. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-5-52.

Abstract

Background: In evaluation of smoking cessation programs including surveys and clinical trials the tradition has been to treat non-responders as smokers. The aim of this paper is to assess smoking behaviour of non-responders in an evaluation of the Swedish national tobacco cessation quitline a nation-wide, free of charge service.

Methods: A telephone interview survey with a sample of people not participating in the original follow-up. The study population comprised callers to the Swedish quitline who had consented to participate in a 12 month follow-up but had failed to respond. A sample of 84 (18% of all non-responders) was included. The main outcome measures were self-reported smoking behaviour at the time of the interview and at the time of the routine follow-up. Also, reasons for not responding to the original follow-up questionnaire were assessed. For statistical comparison between groups we used Fischer's exact test, odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) on proportions and OR.

Results: Thirty-nine percent reported to have been smoke-free at the time they received the original questionnaire compared with 31% of responders in the original study population. The two most common reasons stated for not having returned the original questionnaire was claiming that they had returned it (35%) and that they had not received the questionnaire (20%). Non-responders were somewhat younger and were to a higher degree smoke-free when they first called the quitline.

Conclusion: Treating non-responders as smokers in smoking cessation research may underestimate the true effect of cessation treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hotlines*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs
  • Patient Dropouts / classification*
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Program Evaluation / statistics & numerical data
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Treatment Failure