Training support persons to help smokers quit: A pilot study

Christi A. Patten, Kenneth P. Offord, Richard D. Hurt, Lisa Sanderson Cox, Janet L. Thomas, Stephanie M. Quigg, Ivana T. Croghan, Troy D. Wolter, Paul A. Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background Evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of a skills-training intervention for adults interested in helping someone to stop smoking (i.e., support persons). Methods Sixty adult support persons (77% female) were directly recruited from the community and randomly assigned to this intervention (manual plus five weekly group-based sessions) or a control condition (one-page leaflet). All intervention and outcome assessments occurred through the support persons. Assessments occurred at weeks 0 (baseline), 6 (end of treatment), 12, and 24. The study was conducted from 1998 to 2001; data collection occurred from 1999 to 2000. Outcomes were ratings of treatment acceptability, recruitment and retention rates, supportive behaviors provided to the smoker, and smoking behavior change in the smoker as reported by the support person. Results Support persons were recruited in a timely manner and study retention rates were high. Support persons in skills training showed significant increases in their supportive behavior scores compared with control subjects at weeks 6 and 12. Although not statistically significant, the skills-training intervention was associated with more quit attempts, greater improvement in stage of change, and higher 7-day point prevalence abstinence rates in the smokers than the control condition. Conclusions A skills training intervention for support persons is feasible and acceptable. Further studies are needed to test the efficacy of this approach for smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-390
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a supplement to the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center grant CA15083 from the National Cancer Institute. Preliminary findings from this study were presented at the 7th Annual Meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SNRT), Seattle WA, March 2001.


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