Background: Only 1%-7% of adult smokers use quitlines annually. Active telephone recruitment may increase utilization and enroll new groups of quitline users.
Purpose: This study aimed to (1) determine the proportion of adult daily smokers actively recruited by telephone to quitline support; (2) calculate the cost per smoker recruited; and (3) compare the characteristics of participants to smokers in the New South Wales (NSW, Australia) general population.
Methods: Between September 2005 and April 2007, 1562 adult daily smokers randomly selected from the electronic NSW telephone directory were recruited into an RCT. The proportion of smokers and the cost per smoker recruited were examined. Participants were compared to NSW adult daily smokers from the NSW Population Health Survey and the Centre for Health Research & Psycho-oncology Smoking Community Survey. Analysis was completed in 2008.
Results: More than half (52%) of eligible smokers contacted by telephone were recruited into cessation support. The cost per smoker recruited was AU$71 (US$59). Active telephone recruitment successfully enrolled smokers who are currently under-represented among quitline users. For instance, more than two thirds (68%) of participants were not intending to quit within 1 month. Compared with NSW adult daily smokers, participants were significantly more likely to be older; more highly educated; married/living with partner or divorced/separated; a nonmetropolitan resident; more nicotine dependent; more ready to quit; and have fewer household members. Participants were significantly less likely to live with a smoker than were NSW adult daily smokers.
Conclusions: Active telephone recruitment has the potential to substantially increase the proportion of smokers using quitline services at a reasonable cost. This method also engages smokers currently under-represented in quitline populations.