Happy Ending: a randomized controlled trial of a digital multi-media smoking cessation intervention


Håvar Brendryen, Department of Psychology, Postboks 1094 Blindern, Oslo 0317, Norway. E-mail: haavabre@psykologi.uio.no


Aims  To assess the long-term efficacy of a fully automated digital multi-media smoking cessation intervention.

Design  Two-arm randomized control trial (RCT).

Setting  World Wide Web (WWW) study based in Norway.

Participants  Subjects (n = 396) were recruited via internet advertisements and assigned randomly to conditions. Inclusion criteria were willingness to quit smoking and being aged 18 years or older.

Intervention  The treatment group received the internet- and cell-phone-based Happy Ending intervention. The intervention programme lasted 54 weeks and consisted of more than 400 contacts by e-mail, web-pages, interactive voice response (IVR) and short message service (SMS) technology. The control group received a self-help booklet. Additionally, both groups were offered free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).

Measurements  Abstinence was defined as ‘not even a puff of smoke, for the last 7 days’, and assessed by means of internet surveys or telephone interviews. The main outcome was repeated point abstinence at 1, 3, 6 and 12 months following cessation.

Findings  Participants in the treatment group reported clinically and statistically significantly higher repeated point abstinence rates than control participants [22.3% versus 13.1%; odds ratio (OR) = 1.91, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.12–3.26, P = 0.02; intent-to-treat). Improved adherence to NRT and a higher level of post-cessation self-efficacy were observed in the treatment group compared with the control group.

Conclusions  As the first RCT documenting the long-term treatment effects of such an intervention, this study adds to the promise of digital media in supporting behaviour change.