Aims: To assess the effect on abstinence rates of pairing up smokers attending a general practice smokers, clinic to provide mutual support between clinic sessions.
Design: Randomized controlled trial comparing a "buddy" condition with a "solo condition" in which smokers received the e same treatment but were not paired up.
Setting: A general practice smokers' clinic in London.
Participants: One hundred and seventy-two smokers recruited by mailshot. INTERVENTION. Smokers attended a nurse-led smokers clinic 1 week prior to their quit date, on the quite date, 1 week later and 3 weeks after that. Smokers in the buddy condition were paired with another smoker trying to give up at the same time to provide mutual support between clinic sessions.
Measurement: The main outcome measure was the percentage of smokers still abstinent from cigarettes at end of treatment (weeks from quite date), verified by expired air carbon monoxide concentration.
Findings: The percentage of smokers still abstinent at the end of treatment was significantly higher in the buddy condition than the solo condition (27% vs. 12%).
Conclusions: A buddy system can provide an effective element of a smoking cessation intervention at minimal cost. Further research is needed to establish the long-term efficacy of this approach and examine the effectiveness of incorporating social support into other types of smoking cessation programmes.