How Well Is Intervention Content Described in Published Reports of Smoking Cessation Interventions?

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Behavioral support interventions for smoking cessation are typically complex, involving multiple interacting component behavior change techniques (BCTs). Precise reporting of intervention content is important for progress in the field. This study assessed the adequacy of published descriptions of the content of smoking cessation behavioral support interventions.


About 152 trials of behavioral support were identified from Cochrane reviews. Authors were contacted up to 3 times requesting a copy of the intervention manual. Descriptions of intervention content in manuals and the corresponding publications were coded into component BCTs using an established taxonomy. The proportion of manual-specified content reported in subsequent trial reports was examined.


Manuals were received for 28 interventions published between 1992 and 2008. An average of 27 BCTs were identified per manual (range: 5–56), whereas published descriptions averaged only 12 (range: 3–26) (t[27] = 4.15, p < .001 for the difference).


Published reports of evaluations of smoking cessation behavioral support interventions typically mention fewer than half the behavior change techniques specified in the corresponding intervention manuals; this deficit in reporting could be remedied by journals insisting on full manuals being provided as supplementary electronic files.

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