Does Motivation Matter? Analysis of a Randomized Trial of Proactive Outreach to VA Smokers

Elisheva R. Danan, Anne M. Joseph, Scott E. Sherman, Diana J. Burgess, Siamak Noorbaloochi, Barbara Clothier, Sandra J. Japuntich, Brent C. Taylor, Steven S. Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Current guidelines advise providers to assess smokers’ readiness to quit, then offer cessation therapies to smokers planning to quit and motivational interventions to smokers not planning to quit. Objectives: We examined the relationship between baseline stage of change (SOC), treatment utilization, and smoking cessation to determine whether the effect of a proactive smoking cessation intervention was dependent on smokers’ level of motivation to quit. Design: Secondary analysis of a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Participants: A total of 3006 current smokers, aged 18–80 years, at four Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. Interventions: Proactive care included proactive outreach (mailed invitation followed by telephone outreach), offer of smoking cessation services (telephone or face-to-face), and access to pharmacotherapy. Usual care participants had access to VA smoking cessation services and state telephone quitlines. Main Measures: Baseline SOC measured with Readiness to Quit Ladder, and 6-month prolonged abstinence self-reported at 1 year. Key Results: At baseline, 35.8 % of smokers were in preparation, 38.2 % in contemplation, and 26.0 % in precontemplation. The overall interaction between SOC and treatment arm was not statistically significant (p = 0.30). Among smokers in preparation, 21.1 % of proactive care participants achieved 6-month prolonged abstinence, compared to 13.1 % of usual care participants (OR, 1.8 [95 % CI, 1.2–2.6]). Similarly, proactive care increased abstinence among smokers in contemplation (11.0 % vs. 6.5 %; OR, 1.8 [95 % CI, 1.1–2.8]). Smokers in precontemplation quit smoking at similar rates (5.3 % vs. 5.6 %; OR, 0.9 [95 % CI, 0.5–1.9]). Within each stage, uptake of smoking cessation treatments increased with higher SOC and with proactive care as compared with usual care. Limitations: Mostly male participants limits generalizability. Randomization was not stratified by SOC. Conclusions: Proactive care increased treatment uptake compared to usual care across all SOC. Proactive care increased smoking cessation among smokers in preparation and contemplation but not in precontemplation. Proactively offering cessation therapies to smokers at all SOC will increase treatment utilization and population-level smoking cessation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-887
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • motivation
  • smoking cessation
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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