Phone Counseling Aids in Smoking Cessation
Study: Motivational Techniques, Personalized Skills Make It Easier for Teen Smokers to Kick the Habit
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 12, 2009 -- Proactive telephone counseling and individually tailored
motivational interviews help teen smokers kick the habit, new research
Two studies, published in the Oct. 12 online issue of the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute, indicate smoking-cessation programs that
involve motivational techniques and personalized behavioral skills training by
phone can make it easier for teens to give up the habit early.
Arthur V. Peterson, PhD, and colleagues at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer
Research Center in Seattle designed a smoking- cessation program to evaluate
the effectiveness of individualized telephone counseling.
They identified more than 2,000 smokers through classroom surveys of juniors
in 50 high schools in Washington state. In half of those schools, teen smokers
received smoking-cessation counseling that combined motivational interviewing
and cognitive behavioral skills training.
The techniques used the smoker’s own words and values to increase the
importance of quitting, anticipating and coping
with stress and other smoking triggers, and making plans to stop, the
More than a year after the intervention started, nearly 22% of counseled
teen smokers reported six months of abstinence, compared to almost 18% among
students in a non-interventional group. For teens who were daily smokers, the
difference in six-month smoking abstinence was statistically significant (10%
Researchers say they found evidence that intervention made a difference,
even as early as after seven days.
Kathleen Kealey, also of the Hutchinson Center’s Cancer Prevention Program,
contends in a second article that the design of the study was conducive to
success. Students were telephoned by trained counselors who delivered
personalized smoking-cessation tips and motivational interviewing.
“Motivational interviewing is very caring, nonjudgmental, and respectful,”
Kealey says in a news release. “It is non-confrontational. A counselor would
never say, ‘I want you to quit smoking.’ Instead the counselor would ask what
the behavior means to the participant. What do they like about it? What don’t
they like about it?”
Scott Leischow, PhD, and Eva Matthews, MPH, both of University of Arizona
cancer and community medicine centers, describe the success of the program as
remarkable in an accompanying editorial. They credit the researchers’ success
to good relationships with the school system and a rigorous implementation
strategy tailored to individual students.
“When a game-changing study provides new hope for how tobacco-using youth
can be treated, the collective ears of the public health community should perk
to attention,” Leischow and Matthews write. The research by Peterson and
colleagues, they say, is such a study.