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Post-intervention effect of a computer tailored smoking cessation programme
  1. Jean-François Etter1,
  2. Thomas V Perneger1,2
  1. 1Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  2. 2Quality of Care Unit, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Mr J-F Etter
 Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Geneva, CMU, case postale, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland;

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Face to face advice for smoking cessation is effective,1 but few smokers are willing to attend smoking cessation clinics, and many do not receive smoking cessation advice from their physician. Self help smoking cessation materials may not be very effective,2 but computer technology can be used to produce effective individualised self help smoking cessation materials and disseminate them widely at a low cost per participant.2 Most studies assessed the effect of computer tailored programmes on smoking cessation after one year or less.2 Only one programme was evaluated during 18 and 24 months.3 These programmes usually produced quit rates<5% higher than in control groups who received standard self help materials or no intervention.2 Because over one third of ex-smokers who achieve 12 months of abstinence eventually relapse five years later,4 it is not yet known whether computer tailored programmes have a long term impact on smoking abstinence.

We showed previously that a computer tailored programme doubled the odds of quitting smoking, after seven months.5 In this study, we tested whether this effect was maintained 24 months after entry in the programme—that is, 12 months after the end of the intervention.


In 1998, we sent the baseline questionnaire to a representative (random) sample of 20 000 residents aged 18–60 in French speaking Switzerland. We sent out follow up questionnaires six and 23 months later to the 2934 baseline participants. We randomly assigned participants to the intervention or control group (fig 1).

Figure 1

 Flow chart of participants in the randomised controlled trial.

The intervention consisted of personal counselling letters, written by a …

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  • Funding: this study was supported by grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation to J-F Etter (32-47122-96, 3233-054994.98 and 3200-055141.98), by the Swiss Cancer League, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, and the Health Authority of the Canton of Geneva. The smoking cessation programme evaluated in this paper was funded by the same sponsors and by the Geneva Cancer League, the Swiss Foundation for Health Promotion, the Loterie Romande, Pharmacia, and the Health Authority of the Canton of Jura.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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