Retention of Homeless Smokers in the Power to Quit Study

Nicotine Tob Res. 2015 Sep;17(9):1104-11. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu210. Epub 2014 Oct 9.


Introduction: Concerns about retention are a major barrier to conducting studies enrolling homeless individuals. Since smoking is a major problem in homeless communities and research on effective methods of promoting smoking cessation is needed, we describe strategies used to increase retention and participant characteristics associated with retention in smoking cessation study enrolling homeless adults.

Methods: The parent study was a 2-group randomized controlled trial with 26-week follow-up enrolling 430 homeless smokers from emergency shelters and transitional housing units in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, MN, USA. Multiple strategies were used to increase retention, including conducting visits at convenient locations for participants, collecting several forms of contact information from participants, using a schedule that was flexible and included frequent low-intensity visits, and providing incentives. Participant demographics as well as characteristics related to tobacco and drug use and health status were analyzed for associations with retention using univariate and multivariate analysis.

Results: Overall retention was 75% at 26 weeks. Factors associated with increased retention included greater age; having healthcare coverage; history of multiple homeless episodes, lower stress level; and higher PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) score. A history of excessive drinking and drug use were associated with decreased retention.

Conclusions: It is possible to successfully retain homeless individuals in a smoking cessation study if the study is designed with participants' needs in mind.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / complications
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology