Background NHS staff are an integral part in smoking cessation advice and treatment, however an estimated 73,000 NHS staff currently smoke, costing the NHS over £2,800 a year per smoker. Although NICE guidance states that NHS staff should be offered smoking cessation support on site, in work hours, this is not always the case and less than 50% of UK trusts achieve this. We designed and implemented a new smoking cessation programme at Portsmouth Hospitals University Trust, to be delivered in the workplace, during work hours and with access to on site pharmacotherapy.
Methods A randomised control trial was designed and 30 trust employees who smoke were enrolled and randomised. In the intervention group, participants completed a 13-week programme involving group and 1:1 sessions, with regular carbon monoxide monitoring and free pharmacotherapy, and the control group received standard care (self-referral to local smoking cessation services). Participants completed a series of questionnaires (e.g. self-efficacy, intention to quit, smoking behaviour) at four-time points. At the end of the intervention, participants from both groups were interviewed to discuss their experience of the intervention. Those who had been in the control group were then offered the chance to receive the intervention.
Findings At the 6-month follow up the intervention group significantly quit smoking compared to the control group (χ2, N =21 = 7.07, p = 0.002). Of the intervention group, 9 people chose Varenicline and 6 chose nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Three people changed from Varenicline to NRT during the study. No significant differences were found between the intervention and control cohorts in their intention to quit smoking, self-efficacy, positive and negative outcome expectancies. Participants in the intervention group enjoyed the group aspect and the support received from occupational health staff. They then became smoking cessation ambassadors, to continue this in their workplaces.
Discussion The intervention successfully helped the majority of participants to stop smoking. Based on these results, this programme has been added to the Occupational Health wellbeing programme and is running at least biannually. More interventions in NHS Trusts need to be developed to support staff to quit smoking.
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