Smoking-Cessation Interventions for Urban Hospital Patients

A Randomized Comparative Effectiveness Trial


      Hospitalization is a unique opportunity for smoking cessation, but prior interventions have measured efficacy with narrowly defined populations. The objective of this study was to enroll smokers admitted to two “safety net” hospitals and compare the effectiveness of two post-discharge cessation interventions.


      A randomized comparative effectiveness trial was conducted.


      At two New York City public hospitals, every hospitalized patient identified as a smoker (based on admission records) was approached. Inclusion criteria were: smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days; spoke English, Spanish, or Mandarin; had a U.S. phone number; not discharged to an institution where follow-up or smoking was limited; and not pregnant/breastfeeding. Of 18,797 patients identified as current smokers between July 2011 and April 2014, a total of 3,047 (16%) were discharged before being approached, 3,273 (17%) were not current smokers, 4,026 (21%) had no U.S. phone number, 2,831 (15%) were ineligible for other reasons, and 3,983 (21%) refused participation. In total, 1,618 (9%) participants enrolled in the study. During follow-up, 69% of participants were reached at 2 months and 68% at 6 months.


      At discharge, participants were randomized to multisession telephone counseling from study staff (n=804) or referral to the state quitline for proactive outreach and counseling (n=814).

      Main outcome measures

      Self-reported abstinence at 6 months was measured. Analyses were conducted in late 2015.


      One quarter of participants were homeless or in unstable housing, 60% had a history of substance abuse, 43% reported current hazardous drinking, and half had a psychiatric diagnosis other than substance abuse. At follow-up, the rate of abstinence (30-day point prevalence) was higher in the intensive counseling arm than the quitline arm at 2 months (29.0% vs 20.7%; relative risk=1.40; 95% CI=1.13, 1.73) and 6 months (37.4% vs 31.5%; relative risk=1.19; 95% CI=1.01, 1.40).


      Intensive counseling was more effective than referral to the state quitline. Long-term abstinence was excellent in both groups. Many patients were not eligible for enrollment despite minimal exclusion criteria.

      Trial Registration

      This study is registered at NCT01363245.
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