Telehealth-delivered group smoking cessation for rural and urban participants: feasibility and cessation rates.

Addict Behav. 2012 Jan;37(1):108-14. Carlson LE, Lounsberry JJ, Maciejewski O, Wright K, Collacutt V, Taenzer P. Department of Psychosocial Resources, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Canada.

BACKGROUND: Large-group behavioral smoking cessation interventions are effective for helping people quit smoking, but have not been evaluated using videoconferencing technology for rural and remote participants who have no access to in-person cessation programs. The objectives of this study were to provide and evaluate an evidence-based group smoking cessation program for rural/remote smokers wishing to quit through a Telehealth videoconferencing link at their local Health Centre.

METHODS: From September 2005 through April 2008, eight separate eight-session, 4 month long smoking cessation group programs were offered both in person to urban participants in Calgary and at up to six rural sites simultaneously via Telehealth videoconferencing. Quit rates were assessed at program completion, 6 and 12 month follow-up. Participants also provided evaluations of the program and technology

RESULTS: 554 smokers participated in the program: 370 in Calgary and 184 at various remote sites. Sixteen Telehealth sites participated from across Alberta and one site from the Northwest Territories. After program completion, continuous abstinence rates using the most conservative intent-to-treat method were 27.5% in Calgary and 25.5% for the rural Telehealth sites. Quit numbers were much higher using only Available Data at 39.2% for Calgary and 37.2% for the rural sites. Similar rates were maintained over the 12-month follow-up. Program evaluations were positive.

CONCLUSIONS: It is possible to offer effective smoking cessation to small groups of patients in rural or remote locations through Telehealth videoconferencing technology, which produces quit rates similar to in-person groups.

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