Introduction and Objectives A regional smoking cessation counselling service provides one-to-one counselling with follow-up by telephone and appointments for up to 1 year. Previously, no long-term evaluations of such methods of smoking cessation have been conducted. This study aimed to establish how successful the service is 5–10 years following counselling.
Method Patients were interviewed by means of a telephone questionnaire. Their current smoking status was assessed and baseline data including previous smoking habits was recorded. The intervention group were patients who completed the programme and deemed non-smokers after 1 year. The control group were patients who were referred but failed to attend. Both groups were referred to the service between 2001 and 2005. Seventy-nine out of 202 patients were interviewed from the intervention group and 121 out of 752 patients from the control group were interviewed.
Results Of those previously attending the programme, 30.4% had relapsed. Of the 69.6% of participants remaining non-smokers, 85.5% had remained non-smokers throughout this follow-up period. Participants who did not attend were more likely to remain smokers (63.3%, p=<0.001, RR=2.08). Of those attending the programme, 70% reported using additional methods (eg, nicotine replacement therapy) to aid cessation. However, these individuals had a higher rate of relapse (36% vs 20%, p=0.080). Lower socio-economic status may also be linked to a higher relapse rate (p=0.075). Baseline statistics comparing the two cohorts revealed that patients from a lower socio-economic background were less likely to have successfully attended the programme (p=<0.001). Gender or number of pack years accumulated at the time of invitation were not significantly different between cohorts and patient age was similar (control=59 years, intervention=62 years). Median follow-up for both cohorts was 8 years.
Conclusions This unique 5–10 year follow-up indicates that smoking cessation counselling is achieving its aim of assisting the long-term cessation of patients attending the programme. However, patients requiring further interventions such as nicotine replacement therapy and those from lower socio-economic groups have been identified as requiring additional encouragement. This may indicate areas for improvement that smoking cessation programmes should consider.