Correspondence programs for smoking cessation and weight control: a comparison of two strategies in the Minnesota Heart Health Program

Health Psychol. 1990;9(5):585-98. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.9.5.585.


Mailed invitations to participate in weight loss and/or smoking cessation correspondence programs to 31,400 households in a suburban community. Two programs were offered to randomized subsets of households, a 6-month correspondence program costing +5 and the same program for free but requiring a +60 deposit to be refunded based on success in weight loss or smoking cessation. Overall, sign-up included 1,304 people for weight loss and 142 for smoking cessation. The +5 program was about 5 times as popular as the incentive program. Validated weight change after 6 months averaged about 4 lb for the +5 program and 8 lb for the incentive program. Corresponding rates of smoking cessation were about 9% and 20%, respectively. We conclude that correspondence programs for the promotion of weight control and smoking cessation are potentially cost-effective methods for reaching individuals in the community at large, many of whom would not be interested in clinic-based programs. Issues meriting further research include recruitment, especially of smokers, and evaluation of the relative trade-offs in recruitment success versus efficacy of differing treatment approaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota
  • Motivation*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Smoking Prevention*