Relapse prevention in UK Stop Smoking Services: Current practice, systematic reviews of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness analysis

University of Nottingham, Division of Primary Care, Nottingham, UK.
Health technology assessment (Winchester, England) 10/2010; 14(49):1-152, iii-iv. DOI: 10.3310/hta14490
Source: PubMed


Reducing smoking is a chief priority for governments and health systems like the UK National Health Service (NHS). The UK has implemented a comprehensive tobacco control strategy involving a combination of population tobacco control interventions combined with treatment for dependent smokers through a national network of NHS Stop Smoking Services (NHS SSS).
To assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of relapse prevention in NHS SSS. To (1) update current estimates of effectiveness on interventions for preventing relapse to smoking; (2) examine studies that provide findings that are generalisable to NHS SSS, and which test interventions that might be acceptable to introduce within the NHS; and (3) determine the cost-effectiveness of those relapse preventions interventions (RPIs) that could potentially be delivered by the NHS SSS.
A systematic review of the literature and economic evaluation were carried out. In addition to searching the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group register of trials (2004 to July 2008), MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE, PsycINFO, the Science Citation Index and Social Science Citation Index were also searched.
The project was divided into four distinct phases with different methodologies: qualitative research with a convenience sample of NHS SSS managers; a systematic review investigation the efficacy of RPIs; a cost-effectiveness analysis; and a further systematic review to derive the relapse curves for smokers receiving evidence-based treatment of the type delivered by the NHS SSS.
Qualitative research with 16 NHS SSS managers indicated that there was no shared understanding of what relapse prevention meant or of the kinds of interventions that should be used for this. The systematic review included 36 studies that randomised and delivered interventions to abstainers. 'Self-help' behavioural interventions delivered to abstainers who had achieved abstinence unaided were effective for preventing relapse to smoking at long-term follow-up [odds ratio (OR) 1.52, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15 to 2.01]. The following pharmacotherapies were also effective as RPIs after their successful use as cessation treatments: bupropion at long-term follow-up (pooled OR 1.49, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.01); nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) at medium- (pooled OR 1.56, 95% CI 1.16 to 2.11) and long-term follow-ups (pooled OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.63) and one trial of varenicline also indicated effectiveness. The health economic analysis found that RPIs are highly cost-effective. Compared with 'no intervention'; using bupropion resulted in an incremental quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) increase of 0.07, with a concurrent NHS cost saving of 68 pounds; for NRT, spending 12 pounds resulted in a 0.04 incremental QALY increase; varenicline resulted in a similar QALY increase as NRT, but at almost seven times the cost. Extensive sensitivity analyses demonstrated that cost-effectiveness ratios were more sensitive to variations in effectiveness than cost and that for bupropion and NRT, cost-effectiveness generally remained. Varenicline also demonstrated cost-effectiveness at a 'willingness-to-pay' threshold of 20,000 pounds per QALY, but exceeded this when inputted values for potential effectiveness were at the lower end of the range explored. For all drugs, there was substantial relapse to smoking after treatment courses had finished. Quit attempts involving NRT appeared to have the highest early relapse rates, when trial participants would be expected to still be on treatment, but for those involving bupropion and varenicline little relapse was apparent during this time.
The qualitative research sample was small.
Based on the totality of evidence, RPIs are expected to be effective and cost-effective if incorporated into routine treatment within the NHS SSS. While staff within the NHS SSS were largely favourably inclined towards providing RPIs, guidance would be needed to encourage the adoption of the most effective RPIs, as would incentives that focused on the importance of sustaining quit attempts beyond the currently monitored 4-week targets.

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    • "Smoking cessation has also been highlighted as a key goal for the protection of physical health in people with mental health problems, given the higher rates of smoking in these populations compared with the general population [66]. While there is an extensive literature on the cost effectiveness of different smoking cessation strategies for the general public, indicating that highly cost effective smoking cessation interventions are available [67,68], we were only able to identify one economic evaluation of a smoking cessation study targeted at people with mental health needs [55]. "
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    • "Much of the theory and evidence informing relapse prevention strategies comes from the addictions literature in relation to alcoholism, smoking and obesity [10-12], with comparatively little relating to physical activity and poor diet. Whilst all these behaviours are important in the context of reducing cardiovascular risk, we hypothesise that the types of barriers and facilitators and thereafter the relapse prevention strategies observed in the addictions literature may not be fully appropriate or comprehensive for individuals at high risk of cardiovascular events (including diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia). "
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    • "Effective relapse prevention interventions (RPIs) offered at the end of current treatment could therefore increase long term success rates. Systematic reviews have concluded that RPIs in the form of extended use of NRT, buproprion or varenicline are probably effective when used to prevent relapse amongst smokers who have recently become abstinent [7,8] and economic modelling suggests that this use of extended treatment is likely to be highly cost effective [9]. However, most trial data are from countries without the cessation infrastructure seen in the UK and hence their applicability to routine health care settings such as the NHS is unclear. "
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    ABSTRACT: National Health Service stop smoking services (NHS SSS) in the UK offer cost- effective smoking cessation services. Despite high abstinence rates after acute cessation treatment, the majority of clients have relapsed by one year. Several interventions have been identified, from trial data, as effective in preventing relapse to smoking. This study investigated uptake, feasibility and acceptability of offering nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as a relapse prevention intervention (RPI) in NHS SSS. Eligible smokers who had successfully completed acute cessation treatment using NRT at Nottingham City NHS SSS between April 2010 and January 2011 were offered the RPI and the rate of uptake was monitored. Consenting individuals completed a baseline questionnaire, providing demographic and smoking behaviour data. The RPI consisted of using NRT for a further 12 weeks after initial cessation-orientated treatment had ended. At a six-month review, self-reported smoking status was assessed via telephone. Anonymised demographic data on NHS SSS users who did not agree to participate in the study were retrieved from NHS SSS records and used to determine the presence of any socio-demographic differences between individuals who agreed to participate in the study and those who did not. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with a selection of participants; these were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed to identify participants’ views on the RPI. Of 493 stop smoking service clients who were assessed, 260 were eligible for and offered the RPI and 115 (44%, CI 38%- 50%) accepted. Individuals who accepted NRT were significantly more likely to be older (p < 0.001) and to pay for their prescriptions (p < 0.001). Quitters who had never worked or were unemployed were significantly less likely to accept the offer of relapse prevention compared to those in routine and manual occupations (55% reduction in odds, p = 0.026). Interview findings revealed that clients who accepted extended NRT felt the longer duration of pharmacological and psychological support were both valuable in helping them to remain abstinent. In routine smoking cessation service care, it is feasible to offer clients extended courses of NRT as a RPI. The RPI was acceptable to them as almost half of the eligible clients offered this treatment accepted it.
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