Aims: To: (a) identify characteristics of older smokers considering cessation of smoking; (b) evaluate a cessation intervention plus access to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT); (c) identify predictors of those who successfully quit; and (d) evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in those AGED >or = 75 years.
Design: Self-selection of: (a) a cessation of smoking programme; or (b) ongoing smoking.
Setting: Teaching hospital, Perth, Western Australia.
Participants: A larger study recruited smokers and never smokers: from this the 215 community-dwelling smokers (>or= 5 cigarettes/day) aged >or= 68 years (171 males) were enrolled.
Intervention: Brief intervention with telephone support and access to NRT versus no intervention.
Measurements: (a) Profile of older adults planning to quit smoking compared with continuing smokers; (b) cessation at 6 months defined as 30-day point prevalence validated via expired carbon monoxide; and (c) factors predictive of successful cessation.
Findings: There were 165 intervention participants. Compared with the 50 continuing smokers, participants in the intervention were younger and had significantly less years of regular smoking, more previous quit attempts and greater nicotine dependence scores. At 6 months, the point prevalence of ex-smokers was 25% (n = 42) with 20% (n = 33) being abstinent throughout the study. No continuing smoker had ceased smoking. Among the intervention group, logistic regression showed that those who used NRT (OR 4.36), were male (OR 3.17), had higher anxiety (OR 1.67) or rejected 'more colds and coughs' as a reason for quitting (OR 2.91) were more likely to be successful quitters. Of those aged >or= 75 years (n = 77), 25% matched cessation criteria.
Conclusions: Older smokers can be engaged successfully in a brief intervention plus NRT as aids to cessation of smoking. The intervention was also effective in the older subgroup of participants. Social factors may provide an additional means of motivating older smokers to quit.