Simulating smokers' acceptance of modifications in a cessation program

Public Health Rep. 1992 Jan-Feb;107(1):81-92.


Recent research has underscored the importance of assessing barriers to smokers' acceptance of cessation programs. This paper illustrates the use of computer simulations to gauge smokers' response to program modifications which may produce barriers to participation. It also highlights methodological issues encountered in conducting this work. Computer simulations were based on conjoint analysis, a consumer research method which enables measurement of smokers' relative preference for various modifications of cessation programs. Results from two studies are presented in this paper. The primary study used a randomly selected sample of 218 adult smokers who participated in a computer-assisted phone interview. Initially, the study assessed smokers' relative utility rating of 30 features of cessation programs. Utility data were used in computer-simulated comparisons of a low-cost, self-help oriented program under development and five other existing programs. A baseline version of the program under development and two modifications (for example, use of a support group with a higher level of cost) were simulated. Both the baseline version and modifications received a favorable response vis-à-vis comparison programs. Modifications requiring higher program costs were, however, associated with moderately reduced levels of favorable consumer response. The second study used a sample of 70 smokers who responded to an expanded set of smoking cessation program features focusing on program packaging. This secondary study incorporate in-person, computer-assisted interviews at a shopping mall, with smokers viewing an artist's mock-up of various program options on display. A similar pattern of responses to simulated program modifications emerged, with monetary cost apparently playing a key role. The significance of conjoint-based computer simulation as a tool in program development or dissemination, salient methodological issues, and implications for further research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Program Development*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Smoking Cessation / economics
  • Smoking Cessation / methods
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Software
  • Telephone
  • United States