Direct telemarketing of smoking cessation interventions: will smokers take the call?

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Abstract

Aims

Few smokers currently make use of available and effective cessation strategies, despite their expressed desire to quit and reported interest in cessation support. This study aimed to explore the feasibility of a telephone-based direct-marketing approach to delivering cessation strategies.

Design, setting, measurements and participants

A community survey was conducted to explore the views of current adult smokers regarding the acceptability, likely uptake and barriers to uptake of smoking cessation services offered by direct telephone marketing.

Findings

Three quarters (73.8%) of smokers contacted agreed to be surveyed. Of the 194 study participants, 75.3% reported that they would utilize vouchers for discount nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), 66.5% would use a mailed self-help booklet, 57.2% would take up the offer of regular mailings of personalized letters and self-help materials and 46.4% would utilize a ‘we-call-you’ telephone counselling service. The characteristics of those indicating likely uptake of these services were also explored. The two major barriers to uptake of services were preferring to quit without help and a belief that a particular service would not help the participant.

Conclusions

The data suggest strong support for the direct marketing of smoking cessation strategies; they also highlight the need for further study of the cost-effectiveness of telephone-based direct marketing of smoking cessation strategies as a population-based strategy for reducing the prevalence of smoking in the community.

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