Randomised controlled trial of stand-alone tailored emails for smoking cessation

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Abstract

Introduction

Digital technology has created opportunities for delivering smoking cessation assistance at the population level. However, the efficacy of sending multiple, automated, tailored emails providing motivation, support and information for quitting is unknown.

Methods

Smokers planning to quit (n=1070) were randomly assigned to (1) 27 tailored cessation emails (deluxe email group (DEG)), (2) 3 to 4 tailored emails with links to downloadable booklets (basic email group (BEG)) or (3) a single non-tailored email (single email group (SEG)). All emails included links to quitting resources. Self-reported 7-day point-prevalence abstinence was assessed at 1 month, 3 months and 6 months postenrolment.

Results

Across follow-ups, abstinence was significantly greater for smokers in the DEG (34%) compared with the SEG (25.8%; OR=1.47, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.02, p=0.02) but there was no difference between the BEG (30.8%) and the SEG (p=0.13). Results were independent of baseline cigarettes per day, interest in quitting, smoker in household, use of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or varenicline and gender, themselves associated with abstinence (ps<0.05). Missing=smoking and multiple imputation analyses based on 25 data sets corroborated results. Participants in the DEG were also more likely to use non-medication aids (eg, quit smoking website, cessation class/clinic) compared with the SEG (OR=1.34, p=0.02, CI 1.06 to 1.71), but use of these or NRT by the 4-week follow-up (vs no use) increased abstinence across follow-ups primarily for those in the SEG.

Conclusions

Stand-alone tailored, multiple emails providing support, motivation and information during a quit attempt are an easily deployable, inexpensive mode of providing effective cessation assistance to large numbers of smokers planning to quit.

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