An exploratory randomized controlled trial of a novel high-school-based smoking cessation intervention for adolescent smokers using abstinence-contingent incentives and cognitive behavioral therapy

Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, Dana A Cavallo, Judith L Cooney, Ty S Schepis, Grace Kong, Thomas B Liss, Amanda K Liss, Thomas J McMahon, Charla Nich, Theresa Babuscio, Bruce J Rounsaville, Kathleen M Carroll
Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2013 September 1, 132 (1): 346-51

BACKGROUND: There are few effective smoking cessation interventions for adolescent smokers. We developed a novel intervention to motivate tobacco use behavior change by (1) enhancing desire to quit through the use of abstinence-contingent incentives (CM), (2) increasing cessation skills through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and (3) removing cessation barriers through delivery within high schools.

METHODS: An exploratory four-week, randomized controlled trial was conducted in Connecticut high schools to dismantle the independent and combined effects of CM and CBT; smokers received CM alone, CBT alone, or CM+CBT. Participants included 82 adolescent smokers seeking smoking cessation treatment. The primary outcome was seven-day end-of-treatment (EOT) point prevalence (PP) abstinence, determined using self-reports confirmed using urine cotinine levels. Secondary outcomes included one-day EOT PP abstinence and cigarette use during treatment and follow up.

RESULTS: Among participants who initiated treatment (n=72), group differences in seven-day EOT-PP abstinence were observed (χ(2)=10.48, p<0.01) with higher abstinence in the CM+CBT (36.7%) and CM (36.3%) conditions when compared with CBT (0%). One-day EOT-PP abstinence evidenced similar effects (χ(2)=10.39, p<0.01; CM+CBT: 43%, CM: 43%, CBT: 4.3%). Survival analyses indicated differences in time to first cigarette during treatment (χ(2)=8.73, p=0.003; CBT: Day 3, CM: Day 9, CM+CBT: Day 20). At one- and three-month follow ups, while no differences were observed, the CM alone group had the slowest increase in cigarette use.

CONCLUSIONS: High-school, incentive-based smoking cessation interventions produce high rates of short-term abstinence among adolescent smokers; adding cognitive behavioral therapy does not appear to further enhance outcomes.

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