A self-help intervention for African American smokers: tailoring cancer information service counseling for a special population

Prev Med. 1998 Sep-Oct;27(5 Pt 2):S61-70. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0400.


Background: African Americans remain a critically underserved group for smoking cessation interventions. This study tested the effectiveness of a tailored, culturally sensitive intervention for African American smokers who called the NCI Cancer Information Service (CIS) for help to quit smoking.

Methods: This paper presents results of a 2-year study of tailored counseling strategies among African American smokers (n = 1,422) who called four regional CIS offices in response to a radio-based media campaign in 14 communities. Callers were randomly assigned to receive either the standard CIS quit smoking counseling and guide (Clearing the Air) or counseling and a guide (Pathways to Freedom) tailored to the quitting needs and barriers of African American smokers. Callers were predominantly female (63.6%). ages 20-49 (88%), with a high school education or more (84%). Median smoking history was 17 years; median smoking rate was 20 cigarettes/day. Standard (n = 689) and Tailored (n = 733) group subjects did not differ on most baseline measures.

Results: On most measures, Standard and Tailored counseling/guides received similar ratings, but the Tailored guide was rated as having more appealing photos (P = 0.001) and as being more appropriate for family members (P = 0.003). Six-month follow-up with 893 subjects (response rates were 63% Standard, 62% Tailored, ns) showed significantly more quit attempts (P = 0.002) and greater use of prequitting strategies (P < 0.05) among Tailored than among Standard subjects, but no differences in self-reported 1-week abstinence (14.4% Standard, 16.2% Tailored) (ns). An opportunistic 12-month follow-up of subjects recruited in the last year of the study (n = 445) (response rates were 57% Standard, 60% Tailored, ns) showed a significantly higher quit rate (15.4% Standard, 25.0% Tailored) for Tailored subjects (P = 0.034).

Conclusions: Results show promise for tailored approaches to boost quit attempts and success rates among African American smokers.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Information Services*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • United States