Financial incentives, monetary or vouchers, are widely used in an attempt to precipitate, reinforce and sustain behaviour change, including smoking cessation. They have been used in workplaces, in clinics and hospitals, and within community programmes.
To determine the long‐term effect of incentives and contingency management programmes for smoking cessation.
For this update, we searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialised Register, clinicaltrials.gov, and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP). The most recent searches were conducted in July 2018.
We considered only randomised controlled trials, allocating individuals, workplaces, groups within workplaces, or communities to smoking cessation incentive schemes or control conditions. We included studies in a mixed‐population setting (e.g. community, work‐, clinic‐ or institution‐based), and also studies in pregnant smokers.
Data collection and analysis
We used standard Cochrane methods. The primary outcome measure in the mixed‐population studies was abstinence from smoking at longest follow‐up (at least six months from the start of the intervention). In the trials of pregnant women we used abstinence measured at the longest follow‐up, and at least to the end of the pregnancy. Where available, we pooled outcome data using a Mantel‐Haenzel random‐effects model, with results reported as risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), using adjusted estimates for cluster‐randomised trials. We analysed studies carried out in mixed populations separately from those carried out in pregnant populations.
Thirty‐three mixed‐population studies met our inclusion criteria, covering more than 21,600 participants; 16 of these are new to this version of the review. Studies were set in varying locations, including community settings, clinics or health centres, workplaces, and outpatient drug clinics. We judged eight studies to be at low risk of bias, and 10 to be at high risk of bias, with the rest at unclear risk. Twenty‐four of the trials were run in the USA, two in Thailand and one in the Phillipines. The rest were European. Incentives offered included cash payments or vouchers for goods and groceries, offered directly or collected and redeemable online. The pooled RR for quitting with incentives at longest follow‐up (six months or more) compared with controls was 1.49 (95% CI 1.28 to 1.73; 31 RCTs, adjusted N = 20,097; I2 = 33%). Results were not sensitive to the exclusion of six studies where an incentive for cessation was offered at long‐term follow up (result excluding those studies: RR 1.40, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.69; 25 RCTs; adjusted N = 17,058; I2 = 36%), suggesting the impact of incentives continues for at least some time after incentives cease.
Although not always clearly reported, the total financial amount of incentives varied considerably between trials, from zero (self‐deposits), to a range of between USD 45 and USD 1185. There was no clear direction of effect between trials offering low or high total value of incentives, nor those encouraging redeemable self‐deposits.
We included 10 studies of 2571 pregnant women. We judged two studies to be at low risk of bias, one at high risk of bias, and seven at unclear risk. When pooled, the nine trials with usable data (eight conducted in the USA and one in the UK), delivered an RR at longest follow‐up (up to 24 weeks post‐partum) of 2.38 (95% CI 1.54 to 3.69; N = 2273; I2 = 41%), in favour of incentives.
Overall there is high‐certainty evidence that incentives improve smoking cessation rates at long‐term follow‐up in mixed population studies. The effectiveness of incentives appears to be sustained even when the last follow‐up occurs after the withdrawal of incentives. There is also moderate‐certainty evidence, limited by some concerns about risks of bias, that incentive schemes conducted among pregnant smokers improve smoking cessation rates, both at the end of pregnancy and post‐partum. Current and future research might explore more precisely differences between trials offering low or high cash incentives and self‐incentives (deposits), within a variety of smoking populations.
- Norwich Medical School - Professor of Addiction Sciences
- Norwich Institute for Healthy Aging - Member
- Epidemiology and Public Health - Member
- Public Health and Health Services Research - Member
Person: Research Group Member, Research Centre Member, Academic, Teaching & Research