Does it matter who you see to help you stop smoking? Short-term quit rates across specialist stop smoking practitioners in England


Correspondence to: Leonie S. Brose, National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT), University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HB, UK. E-mail:



A network of Stop Smoking Services has been set up within the National Health Service (NHS) in England. The services deliver a combination of behavioural support and medication. It is important to establish the degree of variability in quit rates attributable to differences between individual practitioners, to gauge the scope for improvement by training and professional support. The aim of the present analysis was to examine how far short-term quit rates depend on the practitioner delivering the intervention after adjusting for potential confounding variables.


Observational study using routinely collected data.


Thirty-one NHS Stop Smoking Services in England.


Data from 46 237 one-to-one treatment episodes (supported quit attempts) delivered by specialist practitioners.


Three-level logistic regression models were fitted for carbon monoxide (CO)-validated short-term (4-week) quit rates. Models adjusted for age, gender, exemption from prescription charges, medication and intervention setting for each treatment episode, number of clients for each practitioner and economic deprivation at the level of the Stop Smoking Service. Secondary analyses included (i) the Heaviness-of-Smoking Index (HSI) as predictor and (ii) 4-week quit rates whether or not confirmed by CO.


Differences between individual specialist practitioners explained 7.6% of the variance in CO-verified quit rates after adjusting for client demographics, intervention characteristics and practitioner and service variables (P < 0.001). HSI had little impact on this figure; in quits not necessarily validated by CO, practitioners explained less variance.


Individual stop smoking practitioners appear to differ to a significant degree in effectiveness. It is important to examine what underlies these differences in order to improve selection, training and professional development.