For the first time, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre have demonstrated that it is possible to successfully recruit and retain a large number of adolescent smokers from the general population into a smoking intervention study and, through personalized, proactive telephone counseling, significantly impact rates of six-month continuous quitting. These findings, by Arthur V. Peterson Jr., Ph.D., Kathleen A. Kealey and colleagues, are reported in a pair of papers in the 12 October ‘Advance Access’ online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
‘When this study started, despite decades of research and dozens of intervention trials, there was no proven way to reach teens from the general population and recruit them into smoking cessation programs, and there was no proven way to help these teens quit,’ said Peterson, a member of the Hutchinson Centre’s Public Health Sciences Division and lead author of the paper that reported the results of the Hutchinson Study of High School Smoking, the largest randomized trial of teen smoking cessation ever conducted.
The trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health, involved 2,151 teenage smokers from 50 high schools in Washington. Half of the schools were randomly assigned to the experimental intervention; teens in these schools were invited to take part in confidential,personalized telephone counseling designed to help motivate them to quit. The remaining 25 schools served as a comparison group; teen smokers from these schools did not participate in the telephone intervention. The study also included 745 nonsmokers to ensure that contacting students for participation in the trial would not reveal a participant’s smoking status.
Study recruitment was robust; in the experimental group 65.3 percent of the smokers were eligible and participated in the telephone intervention. Recruitment took place in their junior year and the counseling intervention took place during their senior year. ‘The literature says it is very difficult to recruit kids to teen smoking programs. People have tried. The field has encountered great obstacles in recruiting teens to smoking cessation programs. And so we took that as a challenge,’ Peterson said.