Happy Ending: a randomized controlled trial of a digital multi-media smoking cessation intervention

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AimsTo assess the long-term efficacy of a fully automated digital multi-media smoking cessation intervention.DesignTwo-arm randomized control trial (RCT).SettingWorld Wide Web (WWW) study based in Norway.ParticipantsSubjects (n = 396) were recruited via internet advertisements and assigned randomly to conditions. Inclusion criteria were willingness to quit smoking and being aged 18 years or older.InterventionThe treatment group received the internet- and cell-phone-based Happy Ending intervention. The intervention programme lasted 54 weeks and consisted of more than 400 contacts by e-mail, web-pages, interactive voice response (IVR) and short message service (SMS) technology. The control group received a self-help booklet. Additionally, both groups were offered free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).MeasurementsAbstinence was defined as ‘not even a puff of smoke, for the last 7 days’, and assessed by means of internet surveys or telephone interviews. The main outcome was repeated point abstinence at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months following cessation.FindingsParticipants in the treatment group reported clinically and statistically significantly higher repeated point abstinence rates than control participants [22.3% versus 13.1%; odds ratio (OR) = 1.91, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.12–3.26, P = 0.02; intent-to-treat). Improved adherence to NRT and a higher level of post-cessation self-efficacy were observed in the treatment group compared with the control group.ConclusionsAs the first RCT documenting the long-term treatment effects of such an intervention, this study adds to the promise of digital media in supporting behaviour change.

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