Benefits of telephone care over primary care for smoking cessation: a randomized trial

Arch Intern Med. 2006 Mar 13;166(5):536-42. doi: 10.1001/archinte.166.5.536.


Background: Brief clinician intervention and telephone counseling are both effective aids for smoking cessation. However, the potential benefit of telephone care above and beyond routine clinician intervention has not been examined previously. The objective of this study is to determine if telephone care increases smoking cessation compared with brief clinician intervention as part of routine health care.

Methods: This 2-group, prospective, randomized controlled trial enrolled 837 daily smokers from 5 Veterans Affairs medical centers in the upper Midwest. The telephone care group (n = 417) received behavioral counseling with mailing of smoking cessation medications as clinically indicated. The standard care group (n = 420) received intervention as part of routine health care. The primary outcome was self-reported 6-month duration of abstinence 12 months after enrollment. Secondary outcomes were 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 3 and 12 months, participation in counseling programs, and use of smoking cessation medications.

Results: Using intention-to-treat procedures, we found that the rate of 6-month abstinence at the 12-month follow-up was 13.0% in the telephone care group and 4.1% in the standard care group (odds ratio [OR], 3.50; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.99-6.15). The rate of 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 3 months was 39.6% in the telephone care group and 10.1% in the standard care group (OR, 5.84; 95% CI, 4.02-8.50). Telephone care compared with standard care increased the rates of participation in counseling programs (97.1% vs 24.0%; OR, 96.22; 95% CI, 52.57-176.11) and use of smoking cessation medications (89.6% vs 52.3%; OR, 7.85; 95% CI, 5.34-11.53).

Conclusion: Telephone care increases the use of behavioral and pharmacologic assistance and leads to higher smoking cessation rates compared with routine health care provider intervention.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Services*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smoking Cessation* / methods
  • Smoking Cessation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Telephone
  • United States