CCC 2011: Automated Telephone Follow-up for Smoking Cessation

December 2011

The Ottawa Model for Smoking Cessation is a highly successful and widely adopted program for getting hospitalized patients to quit smoking. The intervention is most effective when support continues beyond discharge. Staff follow-up is a resource-intensive approach to maintaining patient contact. Kerri-Anne Mullen, Network Manager for the program, presented a study examining the impact of an automated telephone follow-up system using interactive voice response (IVR) technology.

The intervention is most effective when support continues beyond discharge.

Patients were randomly assigned to either standard care (no follow-up) or to IVR follow-up. The IVR group received eight automated calls over six months following discharge. The calls prompted patients to respond to a series of questions. Red-flagged responses triggered a callback to the patient by a smoking cessation nurse counsellor. The study leveraged experience and infrastructure from the Heart Institute’s Telehealth Program, which has shown a dramatic cut in hospital readmissions for heart failure patients using IVR.

Results showed that the quit rate at 26 weeks was 9 per cent higher in the IVR group over standard care alone. At 52 weeks, there was a 7 per cent difference in quit rates but this was no longer statistically significant. Because the effectiveness of IVR systems has been shown to vary widely depending on how they are implemented (e.g., timing and frequency of calls, wording and number of questions, etc.), the researchers plan to vary the protocol in future trials to increase the quit rate over the long term.  j