Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy: protocol for a single arm intervention study.
Marteau TM., Thorne J., Aveyard P., Hirst J., Sokal R.
BACKGROUND: Smoking during pregnancy and in the postnatal period is a major cause of low birth weight and a range of adverse infant health outcomes. Stop smoking services can double quit rates, but only 17% of pregnant women smoking at the time they book for antenatal care use these services. In a recent Cochrane review on the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions in pregnancy, financial incentives were found to be the single most effective intervention. We describe a single arm intervention study offering participation in a financial incentive scheme for smoking cessation to all pregnant smokers receiving antenatal care in one area in England. The aim of the study is to assess the potential effectiveness of using financial incentives to achieve smoking cessation in pregnant women who smoke, to inform the use of financial incentive schemes in routine clinical practice as well as the interpretation of existing trials and the design of future studies. METHOD/DESIGN: 500 consecutive pregnant smokers are offered participation in the scheme, which involves attending for up to 32 assessments until six months post-partum, to verify smoking cessation by self report and a negative exhaled carbon monoxide measurement. At each visit when cessation is verified, participants receive a shopping voucher starting at a value of £8 and increasing by £1 at each consecutive successful visit. Assessments decline in frequency, occurring most frequently during the first two weeks after quitting and the first two weeks after delivery. The maximum cumulative total that can be earned through the scheme is £752. DISCUSSION: The results of this study will inform the use of financial incentive schemes in routine clinical practice as well as the interpretation of existing trials and the design of future studies. The main results are (a) an estimate of the proportion of pregnant smokers who enrol in the scheme; (b) estimates of the proportion of pregnant smokers who participate in the scheme and who achieve prolonged abstinence at: i. delivery and ii. six months postpartum; (c) predictors of i. participation in the scheme, and ii. smoking cessation; and (d) estimates of the adverse effects of using incentives to achieve quitting as indexed by: i. the delay in quitting smoking to enrol in an incentive scheme and, ii. false reporting of smoking status, either to gain entry into the scheme or to gain an incentive.