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    Original Investigation
    December 2, 2019

    Effectiveness of a Brief Self-determination Theory–Based Smoking Cessation Intervention for Smokers at Emergency Departments in Hong Kong: A Randomized Clinical Trial

    Author Affiliations
    • 1School of Nursing, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
    • 2School of Nursing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China
    • 3United Christian Hospital, Hospital Authority, Hong Kong, China
    • 4Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
    • 5School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
    JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 2, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.5176
    Key Points

    Question  What is the effect of a brief intervention based on self-determination theory compared with a smoking cessation leaflet on promoting abstinence in smokers presenting at emergency departments?

    Findings  In this randomized clinical trial of 1571 smokers who presented at emergency departments, a self-determination theory–based intervention was effective in increasing the biochemically validated quit rate at 6 months compared with a smoking cessation leaflet (53 of 787 [6.7%] vs 22 of 784 [2.8%]).

    Meaning  The findings suggest that if delivered routinely, this brief self-determination theory–based intervention offers a cost-effective and sustainable approach to help smokers quit smoking.


    Importance  Clinicians have an opportunity to provide smoking cessation interventions to smokers who present to emergency departments (EDs). The effectiveness of a brief intervention based on self-determination theory for smoking cessation is uncertain.

    Objective  To examine the effectiveness of a brief intervention based on self-determination theory for smoking cessation (immediate or progressive) among Chinese smokers presenting at EDs in Hong Kong.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  This single-blind, multicenter intent-to-treat randomized clinical trial was conducted at the EDs of 4 major acute care hospitals in different districts of Hong Kong. In total, 1571 smokers 18 years or older who presented at 4 major EDs between July 4, 2015, and March 17, 2017, were randomized into an intervention group (n = 787) and a control group (n = 784).

    Interventions  The intervention group received brief advice (about 1 minute) and could choose their own quit schedules (immediate or progressive). The control group received a smoking cessation leaflet.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  Follow-up visits were conducted at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. The primary outcome measure, by intent to treat, was biochemically validated abstinence at 6 months.

    Results  Participants (N = 1571) included 1381 men (87.9%); the mean (SD) age at baseline was 47.4 (16.4) years. Among participants who self-reported abstinence at 6 months, 50.3% (85 of 169) had biochemical validation by both an exhaled carbon monoxide test and a saliva cotinine test. Compared with the control group, the intervention group had statistically higher biochemically validated abstinence at 6 months: 6.7% (53 of 787) vs 2.8% (22 of 784) (P < .001), with an adjusted relative risk of 3.21 (95% CI, 1.74-5.93; P < .001). The intervention group also had higher self-reported quit rates at 6 months (12.2% [96 of 787] vs 9.3% [73 of 784], P = .04) and 12 months (13.0% [102 of 787] vs 8.5% [67 of 784], P < .01), as well as higher biochemically validated abstinence at 12 months (7.0% [55 of 787] vs 3.7% [29 of 784], P < .001). The additional cost for each intervention group participant was US $0.47, with an estimated gain of 0.0238 quality-adjusted life-year. The incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year (US $19.53) fell within acceptable thresholds.

    Conclusions and Relevance  This brief, low-cost self-determination theory–based intervention for smokers presenting at EDs effectively increased the biochemically validated quit rate at 6 months. If delivered routinely, such a simple intervention may offer a cost-effective and sustainable approach to help many smokers quit smoking.

    Trial Registration  ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02660957