Healthcare financing systems for increasing the use of tobacco dependence treatment

Ayalu A. Reda, Daniel Kotz, Silvia M. A. A. Evers, Constant Paul van Schayck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background We hypothesized that provision of financial assistance for smokers trying to quit, or reimbursement of their care providers, could lead to an increased rate of successful quit attempts. Objectives The primary objective of this review was to assess the impact of reducing the costs of providing or using smoking cessation treatment through healthcare financing interventions on abstinence from smoking. The secondary objectives were to examine the effects of different levels of financial support on the use and/or prescription of smoking cessation treatment and on the number of smokers making a quit attempt. Search methods We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register in April 2012. Selection criteria We considered randomised controlled trials (RCTs), controlled trials and interrupted time series studies involving financial benefit interventions to smokers or their healthcare providers or both. Data collection and analysis Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed the quality of the included studies. Risk ratios (RR) were calculated for individual studies on an intention-to-treat basis and meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model. We included economic evaluations when a study presented the costs and effects of two or more alternatives. Main results We found eleven trials involving financial interventions directed at smokers and healthcare providers. Full financial interventions directed at smokers had a statistically significant favourable effect on abstinence at six months or greater when compared to no intervention (RR 2.45, 95% CI 1.17 to 5.12, I-2 = 59%, 4 studies). There was also a significant effect of full financial interventions when compared to no interventions on the number of participants making a quit attempt (RR 1.11, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.32, I-2 = 15%) and use of smoking cessation treatment (NRT: RR 1.83, 95% CI 1.55 to 2.15, I-2 = 43%; bupropion: RR 3.22, 95% CI 1.41 to 7.34, I-2 = 71%; behavioural therapy: RR 1.77, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.65). There was no evidence of an effect on smoking cessation when we pooled two trials of financial incentives directed at healthcare providers (RR 1.16, CI 0.98 to 1.37, I-2 = 0%). Comparisons of full coverage with partial coverage, partial coverage with no coverage, and partial coverage with another partial coverage intervention did not detect significant effects. Comparison of full coverage with partial or no coverage resulted in costs per additional quitter ranging from $119 to $6450. Authors' conclusions Full financial interventions directed at smokers when compared to no financial interventions increase the proportion of smokers who attempt to quit, use smoking cessation treatments, and succeed in quitting. The absolute differences are small but the costs per additional quitter are low to moderate. We did not detect an effect on smoking cessation from financial incentives directed at healthcare providers. The methodological qualities of the included studies need to be taken into consideration when interpreting the results.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberCD004305
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Financing, Government
  • Insurance Coverage
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Smoking [therapy]
  • Smoking Cessation [economics]
  • Tobacco Use Cessation [economics]
  • Tobacco Use Disorder [economics; therapy]

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