Study finds that telephone-based counselling can help people to quit smoking
Researchers have found that offering people telephone-based counselling can help those at risk of lung cancer to quit smoking.
The study, carried out in the USA, looked at whether giving people counselling aimed at getting them to quit smoking at the same time they went through screening (routine testing) for lung cancer would help them to successfully stop.
The USA offers screening to people who are at a high risk of the condition, e.g. people aged between 55 and 77 that have smoked for a long time. However, due to issues – such as the potential for test results incorrectly showing that someone has lung cancer - there is debate about whether this type of screening is helpful. At the moment, there are no recommendations for this type of screening in Europe.
As part of this study, 92 people going through lung cancer screening were split into groups, one that received telephone counselling, and the other that received normal care. Neither group included people diagnosed with lung cancer, and both groups had the same amount of people who had normal and abnormal results.
The participants offered counselling took part in six 10–15 minute phone sessions over the course of 3 months – the first of which took place just after they were given the results of their tests. The other group was given a list of free or low-cost resources which they could use to help them quit.
After this, members of both groups were asked whether they had quit – and those that said they had had their saliva tested for nicotine.
They found that eight people (17%) from the group that was given counselling had quit, compared to two (4%) of the group who were given a list of resources.
The researchers believe that their findings support this potential method for working with people who may not otherwise engage with stopping smoking services at a key time when they are thinking about their health.
They are now going to test this method among a much bigger group of people to see if the effects are similar.