Interventions for smoking cessation in hospitalised patients

  • Review
  • Intervention


  • NA Rigotti,

  • MR Munafo,

  • MFG Murphy,

  • LF Stead

Prof Nancy Rigotti, Director of Tobacco Research & Treatment, General Internal Medicine Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, S50-9, Boston, MA, 02114, USA.



An admission to hospital provides an opportunity to help people stop smoking. Individuals may be more open to help at a time of perceived vulnerability, and may find it easier to quit in an environment where smoking is restricted or prohibited. Providing smoking cessation services during hospitalisation may help more people to attempt and sustain a quit attempt.


To determine the effectiveness of interventions for smoking cessation in hospitalised patients.

Search strategy

We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group register, CINAHL and the Smoking and Health database in March 2002 for studies of interventions for smoking cessation in hospitalised patients, using terms including (hospital and patient*) or hospitali* or inpatient* or admission* or admitted.

Selection criteria

Randomised and quasi-randomised trials of behavioural, pharmacological or multicomponent interventions to help patients stop smoking conducted with hospitalised patients who were current smokers or recent quitters. We excluded studies of patients admitted for psychiatric disorders or substance abuse, those that did not report abstinence rates and those with follow-up of less than six months.

Data collection and analysis

Two authors extracted data independently for each paper, with disagreements resolved by consensus.

Main results

Seventeen trials met the inclusion criteria. Intensive intervention (inpatient contact plus follow-up for at least one month) was associated with a significantly higher quit rate compared to control (Peto Odds Ratio 1.82, 95% CI 1.49-2.22, six trials). Interventions with less than a month of follow-up did not show evidence of significant benefit (Peto Odds Ratio 1.09, 95% CI 0.91-1.31, seven trials). There was no evidence to judge the effect of very brief (<20 minutes) interventions delivered only during the hospital stay. Longer interventions delivered only during the hospital stay were not significantly associated with a higher quit rate (Peto Odds Ratio 1.07, 95% CI 0.79-1.44, three trials). Although the interventions increased quit rates irrespective of whether nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) was used, the results for NRT were compatible with other data indicating that it increases quit rates. There was no strong evidence that clinical diagnosis affected the likelihood of quitting.

Authors' conclusions

High intensity behavioural interventions that include at least one month of follow-up contact are effective in promoting smoking cessation in hospitalised patients. The findings of the review were compatible with research in other settings showing that NRT increases quit rates.

Plain language summary

Plain language summary

Smoking cessation support provided during hospitalisation helps people stop smoking

Smoking contributes to many health problems including cancers and lung diseases. Smoking also increases the risk associated with hospitalisation for surgery. If a person is in hospital because of a smoking related illness, they are usually more receptive to accepting help to give up smoking. The review of trials found that programs to stop smoking delivered during hospitalisation that include a one month follow-up are most effective. More research is needed.