Background: Hospitalization may be an opportune time to change smoking behavior because it requires smokers to abstain from tobacco at the same time that illness can motivate them to quit. A hospital-based intervention may promote smoking cessation after discharge.
Methods: We tested the efficacy of a brief bedside smoking counseling program in a randomized controlled trial at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. The 650 adult smokers admitted to the medical and surgical services were randomly assigned to receive usual care or a hospital-based smoking intervention consisting of (1) a 15-minute bedside counseling session, (2) written self-help material, (3) a chart prompt reminding physicians to advise smoking cessation, and (4) up to 3 weekly counseling telephone calls after discharge. Smoking status was assessed 1 and 6 months after hospital discharge by self-report and validated at 6 months by measurement of saliva cotinine levels.
Results: One month after discharge, more intervention than control patients were not smoking (28.9% vs 18.9%; P=.003). The effect persisted after multiple logistic regression analyses adjusted for baseline group differences, length of stay, postdischarge smoking treatment, and hospital readmission (adjusted odds ratio, 2.19; 95% confidence interval, 1.34-3.57). At 6 months, the intervention and control groups did not differ in smoking cessation rate by self-report (17.3% vs 14.0%; P=.26) or biochemical validation (8.1% vs 8.7%; P=.72), although the program appeared to be effective among the 167 patients who had not previously tried to quit smoking (15.3% vs 3.7%; P=.01).
Conclusions: A low-intensity, hospital-based smoking cessation program increased smoking cessation rates for 1 month after discharge but did not lead to long-term tobacco abstinence. A longer period of telephone contact after discharge might build on this initial success to produce permanent smoking cessation among hospitalized smokers.