To determine the effects on cessation rates of adding a partner support group component to a large-group community-based behavioral smoking cessation program.
During the past eight smoking cessation programs at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, separate support group sessions were offered for support persons of prospective quitters. Six hundred smokers brought 156 support people with them to the groups. Cessation rates were calculated at 3, 6, and 12 months postquit.
Those smokers who had support people attending at least one of the support group sessions had higher cessation rates at 3, 6, and 12 months (56%, 46%, and 43%) compared to those without a support person in attendance (36%, 35%, 32%). This effect was especially strong for men, with 3-, 6-, and 12-month cessation rates for those with support of 58%, 54%, and 56%, compared to 52%, 41%, and 36% in the women with support. For men without a support person, the rates were 34%, 35%, and 33%, compared to 38%, 35%, and 31% in women without support. This indicates that although support was initially effective for women, it had no effect on sustained abstinence.
The addition of a support person group to a large-group behavioral smoking cessation program was effective in improving 3-month cessation rates in both men and women, but over 1-year of follow-up support was only associated with greater sustained abstinence in men.