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Smoking cessation boost through personalised interventions

Smoking cessation is a major public health policy, however take-up of the NHS Stop Smoking Services (SSSs) is declining.

This randomised controlled trial in 18 SSSs in England tested the effectiveness of personalised interventions on attendance.

Current smokers were identified in 99 GP practices and invited to take part. Eligibility included giving consent to information from medical records being used to create a personalised invitation letter.

Participants were randomised to receive either an individually tailored risk letter with an invitation to attend a no-commitment introductory session (intervention group n =2636) or the usual letter advertising the local SSS (control group n =1748).

Intervention help

Attendance at the first SSS session was significantly higher in the intervention group (17.4%) than in the control group (9%). Those in the

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Smoking cessation is a major public health policy, however take-up of the NHS Stop Smoking Services (SSSs) is declining.


Stop smoking services provided by the NHS are seeing attendance fall
Picture: iStock

This randomised controlled trial in 18 SSSs in England tested the effectiveness of personalised interventions on attendance. 

Current smokers were identified in 99 GP practices and invited to take part. Eligibility included giving consent to information from medical records being used to create a personalised invitation letter.

Participants were randomised to receive either an individually tailored risk letter with an invitation to attend a no-commitment introductory session (intervention group n=2636) or the usual letter advertising the local SSS (control group n=1748).   

Intervention help

Attendance at the first SSS session was significantly higher in the intervention group (17.4%) than in the control group (9%). Those in the intervention group were also significantly more likely to complete the six week course than those in the control group (14% v 7%).

At six month follow-up abstaining from smoking, which was validated by salivary cotinine, the smoking status biomarker was significantly higher in the intervention group than in those in the control group (9% v 5.6%). 

Tailored invitations and an opportunity to experience the local SSS resulted in increased uptake and ultimately increased cessation than usual service approaches. 


Gilbert H, Sutton S, Morris R et al (2017) Effectiveness of personalised risk information and taster sessions to increase the uptake of smoking cessation services (Start2quit): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 24 January 2017. pii: S0140-6736(16)32379-0. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)32379-0

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