Format and quitting instructions as factors influencing the impact of a self-administered quit smoking program

Health Educ Q. 1988 Summer;15(2):199-216. doi: 10.1177/109019818801500205.


This article presents results from an experimental study designed to evaluate the effects of two features of self-help smoking cessation booklets, format (i.e., day-by-day plan for quitting versus a less structured menu format) and quitting instructions (i.e., "cold turkey" versus gradual reduction) on smoking cessation. Four separate self-help booklets were developed for comparison in this study. Each varied on a combination of the two study factors, but were similar in content, length, style, and readability. The four booklets provided similar advice on how to quit smoking, emphasizing behavioral self-management principles. In addition to the experimental booklets, a fifth control booklet provided general information about smoking and its adverse effects, but no specific advice on quitting. Study subjects included 1,534 adult cigarette smokers who called a stop smoking hotline in Buffalo, New York seeking information on how to quit. Subjects were followed up by phone one month and six months after enrollment to assess changes in smoking behavior. Overall, 18% of subjects reported of being off cigarettes for at least one week at the time of the six month follow-up interview. The format of the booklet and quitting instructions had no effect on smoking cessation rates. In addition, the four booklets emphasizing behavioral self-management skills were no more effective than the control booklet (6 month non-smoking prevalence rate: 17% versus 19%). It is recommended that future self-help quit smoking booklets include information aimed at motivating cessation and focus less attention on teaching strategies for quitting.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Care*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Teaching Materials / standards*