A randomized controlled trial of a smoking cessation intervention conducted among prisoners

Addiction. 2013 May;108(5):966-74. doi: 10.1111/add.12084. Epub 2013 Mar 11.


Aim: To evaluate the efficacy of nortriptyline (NOR) added to a multi-component smoking cessation intervention, which included cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and provision of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

Design: Randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing two study groups with blinded follow-up at 3, 6 and 12 months. Both groups received a multi-component smoking cessation intervention comprising two half-hour individual sessions of CBT and NRT with either active NOR or placebo.

Setting: Prisons in New South Wales (17) and Queensland (one), Australia.

Participants: A total of 425 male prisoners met inclusion criteria and were allocated to either treatment (n = 206) or control group (n = 219).

Measurements: Primary end-points at 3, 6 and 12 months were continuous abstinence, point prevalence abstinence and reporting a 50% reduction in smoking. Smoking status was confirmed by expired carbon monoxide, using a cut-point of ≤10 parts per million.

Findings: Participants' demographics and baseline tobacco use were similar in treatment and control groups. Based on an intention-to-treat analysis, continuous abstinence between the treatment and control groups was not significantly different at 3 months (23.8 versus 16.4%), 6 months (17.5 versus 12.3%) and 12 months (11.7 versus 11.9%).

Conclusion: Adding nortriptyline to a smoking cessation treatment package consisting of behavioural support and nicotine replacement therapy does not appear to improve long-term abstinence rates in male prisoners.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nortriptyline / therapeutic use*
  • Prisoners / psychology
  • Smoking / drug therapy*
  • Smoking / therapy
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Tobacco Use Cessation Devices
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Adrenergic Uptake Inhibitors
  • Nortriptyline