Variability and effectiveness of comparator group interventions in smoking cessation trials: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Black, N., Eisma, M., Viechtbauer, W., Johnston, M., West, R. M., Hartmann-Boyce, J., Michie, S. & de Bruin, M., Sep-2020, In : Addiction. 115, 9, p. 1607-1617 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

  • Nicola Black
  • Maarten Eisma
  • Wolfgang Viechtbauer
  • Marie Johnston
  • Robert M. West
  • Jamie Hartmann-Boyce
  • Susan Michie
  • Marijn de Bruin

Aims: To examine variability and effectiveness of interventions provided to comparator (control) groups in smoking cessation trials. Methods: Systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of behavioral interventions for smoking cessation, with or without stop-smoking medication. We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register for RCTs with objective outcomes measured at ≥ 6 months. Study authors were contacted to obtain comprehensive descriptions of their comparator interventions. Meta-regression analyses examined the relationships of smoking cessation rates with stop-smoking medication and behavior change techniques. Results: One hundred and four of 142 eligible comparator groups (n = 23 706) had complete data and were included in analyses. There was considerable variability in the number of behavior change techniques delivered [mean = 15.97, standard deviation (SD) = 13.54, range = 0–45] and the provision of smoking cessation medication (43% of groups received medication) throughout and within categories of comparator groups (e.g. usual care, brief advice). Higher smoking cessation rates were predicted by provision of medication [B = 0.334, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.030–0.638, P = 0.031] and number of behavior change techniques included (B = 0.020, 95% CI = 0.008–0.032, P < 0.001). Modelled cessation rates in comparator groups that received the most intensive support were 15 percentage points higher than those that received the least (23 versus 8%). Conclusions: Interventions delivered to comparator groups in smoking cessation randomized controlled trials vary considerably in content, and cessation rates are strongly predicted by stop-smoking medication and number of behavior change techniques delivered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1607-1617
Number of pages11
Issue number9
Early online date11-Feb-2020
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2020


  • BEHAVIOR-CHANGE TECHNIQUES, RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIALS, META-REGRESSION, ADHERENCE INTERVENTIONS, PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY, CARE, STANDARD, OUTCOMES, MANAGEMENT, CONSENSUS, Behavior change techniques, meta-analysis, control group, systematic review, meta-regression, smoking cessation, comparator group

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