Project Background: Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are smoking at high rates and are at elevated risk for the development of smoking related illness. Intensive speciality clinic-based tobacco cessation programs have high efficacy, are more cost effective than less intensive approaches, and are employed by most VA medical centers. These programs, however, are infrequently attended by veterans, limiting the impact on prevalence, disease burden, and economic costs of smoking. An internet-based smoking cessation intervention could be an effective, low-cost method to implement evidence based smoking cessation principles. The internet could significantly increase the impact of smoking cessation efforts over current approaches by avoiding barriers that limit utilization of existing clinic-based services. Project Objectives: The goal of the study is to evaluate the impact of an internet-based intervention in comparison to standard VA speciality clinic-based care in promoting smoking cessation in returning veterans. Accordingly, the specific aims and hypotheses are:
AIM 1 : To evaluate the impact of an internet-based smoking cessation intervention on rates of abstinence from cigarettes (self-reported 7-day point prevalent abstinence) at 3 months and 12-month post-treatment follow-ups. Hypothesis 1: Abstinence rates will be significantly higher among veterans randomized to the web-based intervention than those randomized to VA specialty cessation care.
AIM 2 : To evaluate the impact of an internet-based smoking cessation intervention on reach of smoking cessation treatment. Hypothesis 2.1: Internet-based treatment will result in increased reach as measured by the proportion of patients who access care. Hypothesis 2.2: Internet-based treatment will result in engagement in treatment as measured by the proportion of patients that make at least one quit attempt.
AIM 3 : To evaluate the relative cost-effectiveness of the standard specialty care intervention to the web-based intervention. Project Methods: Proposed is a trial in which 410 OEF/OIF veteran smokers will be randomized to receive either an internet-based smoking cessation intervention and nicotine replacement therapy or referral to VA specialty smoking cessation care, which includes behavioral therapy, group counseling, telephone counseling, self-help materials, and choice of smoking cessation aid (pharmacotherapy). Participating patients will be surveyed at 3 months post-intervention and at 12 months. The primary outcome of the trial is a 7-day point prevalence abstinence at the 3-month post intervention follow-up, as measured by self-report and verified by cotinine assay.
Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are smoking at high rates and are at elevated risk for the development of smoking related illness. Smoking is the most preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in veterans and is associated with an enormous economic burden. Current evidence suggests a significant underutilization of smoking cessation treatment and use of smoking cessation aids within VHA. Effective smoking cessation programs that target returning veterans and increase reach over existing approaches are needed. The goal of the study is to evaluate the impact of an internet-based intervention in comparison to standard VA speciality clinic-based care in promoting smoking cessation in returning veterans.