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Financial Incentives for Smoking Abstinence in Homeless Smokers: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.


ABSTRACT: Introduction:Three-quarters of homeless people smoke cigarettes. Financial incentives for smoking abstinence have appeared promising in nonexperimental studies of homeless smokers, but randomized controlled trial (RCT) data are lacking. Methods:We conducted a pilot RCT of financial incentives for homeless smokers. Incentive arm participants (N = 25) could earn escalating $15-$35 rewards for brief smoking abstinence (exhaled carbon monoxide <8 parts per million) assessed 14 times over 8 weeks. Control arm participants (N = 25) were given $10 at each assessment regardless of abstinence. All participants were offered nicotine patches and counseling. The primary outcome was a repeated measure of brief smoking abstinence across 14 assessments. The secondary outcome was brief abstinence at 8 weeks. Exploratory outcomes were self-reported 1-day and 7-day abstinence from (1) any cigarette and (2) any puff of a cigarette. Other outcomes included 24-hour quit attempts, nicotine patch use, counseling attendance, and changes in alcohol and drug use. Results:Compared to control, incentive arm participants were more likely to achieve brief abstinence overall (odds ratio 7.28, 95% confidence interval 2.89 to 18.3) and at 8 weeks (48% vs. 8%, p = .004). Similar effects were seen for 1-day abstinence, but 7-day puff abstinence was negligible in both arms. Incentive arm participants made more quit attempts (p = .03). Nicotine patch use and counseling attendance were not significantly different between the groups. Alcohol and drug use did not change significantly in either group. Conclusions:Among homeless smokers, financial incentives increased brief smoking abstinence and quit attempts without worsening substance use. This approach merits further development focused on promoting sustained abstinence. Registration:ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02565381). Implications:Smoking is common among homeless people, and conventional tobacco treatment strategies have yielded modest results in this population. This pilot RCT suggests that financial incentives may be a safe way to promote brief smoking abstinence and quit attempts in this vulnerable group of smokers. However, further development is necessary to translate this approach into real-world settings and to promote sustained periods of smoking abstinence.

SUBMITTER: Baggett TP 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6236071 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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