ESCAPE: a randomised controlled trial of computer-tailored smoking cessation advice in primary care


Correspondence to: Hazel M. Gilbert, Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK. E-mail:



To evaluate the effectiveness of tailored cessation advice reports, including levels of reading ability, compared with a generic self-help booklet.


Participants were randomised to receive standard non-tailored information or to receive standard information plus a cessation advice report and a progress report, both tailored to individual characteristics.


One hundred and twenty-three general practices located throughout the UK.


Questionnaires were mailed to 58 660 current cigarette smokers aged 18–65 years, identified from general practitioner records. Of the 6911 (11.8%) who completed the questionnaire, provided consent and were enrolled into the study, 6697 (11.4%) were included in the analysis.


Follow-up was by postal questionnaire sent six months after randomisation, or by telephone interview for participants failing to return the questionnaire. The primary outcome was self-reported prolonged abstinence for at least three months at the six-month follow-up.


Quit rates on the primary outcome were not significantly different (3.2% versus 2.7%) (OR = 1.20, 95% CI [0.94, 1.54], P = 0.15). A significantly higher proportion of intervention group participants made a quit attempt during the follow-up period (32.3% versus 29.6%; OR = 1.13, 95% CI [1.01, 1.26], P = 0.026).


ESCAPE, a brief tailored smoking cessation intervention delivered by post and designed to reach a wide population of smokers, appears to increase the rate at which smokers try to stop, but if there is an effect on prolonged abstinence it is small.