Multimedia smoking cessation pilot achieves "encouraging " results
The smoking cessation programme Pro-Change has achieved one-month quit rates of over 40 per cent, according to Dr Claire Anderson (director of pharmacy practice and social pharmacy, University of Nottingham).
Speaking on December 1 at a Boots the Chemists's Pro-Change smoking cessation meeting, Dr Anderson said that people were bored by the usual messages from national campaigns such as No Smoking Day and that multimedia systems could be useful in influencing various aspects of smoking cessation behaviour.
Northumberland health authority piloted the implementation of Pro-Change in Ashington, a health action zone, from September, 1999, to March, 2000, she said. The system was placed in the Boots store at Ashington and in three local, large, proactive general practices. A total of 12 Pro-Change advisers from the practices and Boots completed two days' training.
Data were downloaded from the computers at the four sites. Of the 258 people who used the Pro-Change adult smokers programme, 124 were recorded as setting a quit date, 92 were followed up four weeks after their quit date and 51 (41 per cent) said that they had stopped smoking. Dr Anderson commented that this was encouraging and compared well with other reported four-week quit rates.
The Pro-Change programme pilot succeeded in targeting low-income smokers, she said. Over 60 per cent of participants were unemployed and over two thirds were exempt from prescription charges. Because the study was undertaken in a health action zone, these smokers were entitled to a one-week free supply of nicotine replacement therapy. Dr Anderson pointed out that the pharmacy-based advisers participating in the trial were able to be more proactive and accessible than those in general practices.
Dr Ray Duffell (assistant director, public health directorate, Northumberland health authority) said at the meeting that the pilot had added value to the current smoking cessation services available. He said that there was a need to know how other pharmacies, not just Boots, would view the Pro-Change system and that local pharmaceutical committees should be engaged in the process early on.
Chairing the meeting, Professor Nick Bosanquet (professor of health policy, Imperial College, University of London) said that fostering co-operation between the public and private sectors would help drive health promotion forward.
The Pro-Change programmes include an interactive computer programme and related stage-based self-help manuals. There are three different programmes for use with adult smokers, pregnant smokers and young people. A spokeswoman for Boots the Chemists told The Journal at the meeting that Boots the Chemists holds the licence for the adult smoking cessation programme and that it currently has the computer system installed in 50 of its stores. A further 150 stores are equipped with the manual-only programme. This was the full extent of Pro-Change for the present as Boots wanted to get this number established before considering further activity, she said.
Representatives of over 60 health authorities attended the meeting and were invited to contact the company to discuss possible implementation of the Pro-Change system within their health authorities.