Results of a feasibility study of helpers stay quit training for smoking relapse prevention

Myra L. Muramoto, Allison Hopkins, Melanie Bell, Alicia Allen, Uma Nair, Timothy E. Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: Most smoking quit attempts end in relapse, and interventions focused on relapse prevention are lacking. Helpers Stay Quit (HSQ) is a novel behavioral relapse prevention intervention that teaches newly abstinent smokers to offer a "helping conversation"(HC) to help others quit tobacco. Methods: Pre-post intervention feasibility study with state quitline participants ≥14 days abstinent. Measures at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months included smoking status, offering HCs, and cessation self-efficacy. Primary outcomes: self-reported 7-day point prevalence abstinence; offering HCs. Cox models explored association of HCs with relapse. Preliminary effects analysis using propensity score matching compared 30-day abstinence of quitline clients with study sample at 7 months. Results: Participants (N = 104) were as follows: mean age of 53 years (SD 13.9 years), 48.1% male, mean of cigarettes smoked/day of 16.2 (SD 9.7). Compared with participants who remained abstinent (n = 82), relapsers (n = 22) had fewer HCs over 6 months (2.6 vs 7.2; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.4, 7.8, p =. 006). Using adjusted Cox regression, the hazard ratio of relapse for each HC was 0.85 (95% CI: 0.74, 0.99, p =. 03). Compared with a matched sample of quitline clients not exposed to HSQ, study participants were 49% more likely to report 30-day abstinence at 7-month quitline follow-up (95% CI: 40%, 59%, p <. 0001). Conclusions: HSQ, delivered to newly abstinent smokers who received standard quitline treatment, was associated with less self-reported relapse. These promising preliminary study results warrant further research to evaluate HSQ as a novel behavioral intervention to prevent smoking relapse. Implications: To date, behavioral interventions for smoking relapse prevention that teach abstainers cessation skills to apply to themselves have not shown effectiveness. This feasibility study examines the preliminary efficacy of a conceptually novel, "help others"behavioral intervention approach for relapse prevention in newly abstinent smokers recruited from a state quitline. HSQ teaches the newly abstinent smoker communication and listening skills to encourage other smokers in their personal social network to quit. Exploratory analysis using propensity score matching suggests that participants exposed to HSQ were significantly more likely to self-report 30-day abstinence at quitline 7-month follow-up than other quitline clients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-715
Number of pages5
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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