Spirometry as a motivational tool to improve smoking cessation rates: a systematic review of the literature

Nicotine Tob Res. 2007 Jan;9(1):21-32. doi: 10.1080/14622200601078509.


Obtaining spirometric testing and providing those results to individuals who smoke has been advocated as a motivational tool to improve smoking cessation. However, its effectiveness is not known. We conducted a systematic review to determine if this approach improves rates of smoking cessation. Data sources included MEDLINE (1966 to October 2005), the Cochrane Library, and experts in the field. Eligible randomized controlled trials (RCTs) enrolled at least 25 smokers per arm, evaluated spirometry with associated counseling or in combination with other treatments, followed subjects at least 6 months, and provided smoking abstinence rates. Results from nonrandomized studies also were summarized. The primary outcome was patient-reported long-term (at least 6 months) sustained abstinence with biological validation. Additional outcomes included self-reported abstinence and point-prevalence abstinence. Seven RCTs (N = 6,052 subjects) met eligibility criteria. Follow-up duration ranged from 9 to 36 months. In six trials, the intervention group received concomitant treatments previously demonstrated to increase cessation independently. The range of abstinence was 3%-14% for control subjects and 7%-39% among intervention groups, statistically significantly in favor of intervention in four studies. The only RCT that assessed the independent contribution of spirometry in combination with counseling demonstrated a nonsignificant 1% improvement in patient-reported point-prevalence abstinence at 12 months in the group that received spirometry plus counseling versus counseling alone (6.5% versus 5.5%). Findings from observational studies were mixed, and the lack of controls makes interpretation problematic. Available evidence is insufficient to determine whether obtaining spirometric values and providing that information to patients improves smoking cessation compared with other smoking cessation methods. Spirometric values are of limited benefit as a predictor of smoking cessation or as a tool to "customize" smoking cessation strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Spirometry / instrumentation*