BACKGROUND: Smoking continues to be a driver of mortality. Various forms of evidence-based cessation assistance exist; however, their use is limited. The choice between them may also induce decisional conflict. Offering decision aids (DAs) may be beneficial; however, insights into their effective elements are lacking.
OBJECTIVE: This study tested the added value of an effective element (ie, an "explicit value clarification method" paired with computer-tailored advice indicating the most fitting cessation assistance) of a web-based smoking cessation DA.
METHODS: A web-based randomized controlled trial was conducted among smokers motivated to stop smoking within 6 months. The intervention group received a DA with the aforementioned elements, and the control group received the same DA without these elements. The primary outcome measure was 7-day point prevalence abstinence 6 months after baseline (time point 3 [t=3]). Secondary outcome measures were 7-day point prevalence of abstinence 1 month after baseline (time point 2 [t=2]), evidence-based cessation assistance use (t=2 and t=3), and decisional conflict (immediately after DA; time point 1). Logistic and linear regression analyses were performed to assess the outcomes. Analyses were conducted following 2 (decisional conflict) and 3 (smoking cessation) outcome scenarios: complete cases, worst-case scenario (assuming that dropouts still smoked), and multiple imputations. A priori sample size calculation indicated that 796 participants were needed. The participants were mainly recruited on the web (eg, social media). All the data were self-reported.
RESULTS: Overall, 2375 participants were randomized (intervention n=1164, 49.01%), of whom 599 (25.22%; intervention n=275, 45.91%) completed the DAs, and 276 (11.62%; intervention n=143, 51.81%), 97 (4.08%; intervention n=54, 55.67%), and 103 (4.34%; intervention n=56, 54.37%) completed time point 1, t=2, and t=3, respectively. More participants stopped smoking in the intervention group (23/63, 37%) than in the control group (14/52, 27%) after 6 months; however, this was only statistically significant in the worst-case scenario (crude P=.02; adjusted P=.04). Effects on the secondary outcomes were only observed for smoking abstinence after 1 month (15/55, 27%, compared with 7/46, 15%, in the crude and adjusted models, respectively; P=.02) and for cessation assistance uptake after 1 month (26/56, 46% compared with 18/47, 38% only in the crude model; P=.04) and 6 months (38/61, 62% compared with 26/50, 52%; crude P=.01; adjusted P=.02) but only in the worst-case scenario. Nonuse attrition was 34.19% higher in the intervention group than in the control group (P<.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Currently, we cannot confidently recommend the inclusion of explicit value clarification methods and computer-tailored advice. However, they might result in higher nonuse attrition rates, thereby limiting their potential. As a lack of statistical power may have influenced the outcomes, we recommend replicating this study with some adaptations based on the lessons learned.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Netherlands Trial Register NL8270; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/8270.
INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): RR2-10.2196/21772.