Phone Counseling Helps Teens Quit Smoking

Personalized, motivational calls succeeded in study of high school students

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TUESDAY, Oct. 13, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that teens are more likely to quit smoking if they receive telephone counseling to build their motivation and cognitive behavior skills.

Researchers developed a telephone-counseling program and evaluated it by recruiting 2,000 smokers who were juniors at 50 Washington state high schools.

After getting parent permission, the researchers tested the program on students at 25 of the high schools.

A year later, almost 90 percent of the students took part in a follow-up survey. Twenty-two percent of students said they'd stopped smoking for six months, compared to 18 percent of the other smokers who didn't take part in the program. The counseling program also appeared to help smokers quit for three months, one month, seven days and to extend the period of time since the student last smoked a cigarette.

The teen study is the first of its kind to report a statistically significant difference in quit rates over a one-year period, the authors say.

"The results of the trial show that proactive identification and recruitment of adolescents via public high schools can produce a high level of intervention reach," the authors wrote, "and that delivery of a proactive, personalized counseling intervention via the telephone by well-trained counselors can be effective in increasing teen smoking cessation."

"[W]hen a game-changing study provides new hope for how tobacco-using youth can be treated, the collective ears of the public health community should perk to attention," wrote Scott J. Leischow of the University of Arizona's Arizona Cancer Center and Eva Matthews of the university's department of family and community medicine in an accompanying commentary.

The study appeared online in the Oct. 12 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

Learn more about quitting smoking from the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: Oxford Journals, news release, Oct. 8, 2009

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