How can vulnerable groups be recruited to participate in a community-based smoking cessation program and perceptions of effective elements: A qualitative study among participants and professionals

Barbara van Straaten*, Gert-Jan Meerkerk, Floor A. van den Brand, Pamela Lucas, Nienke de Wit, Gera E. Nagelhout

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Web of Science)


INTRODUCTION Smokers from vulnerable groups, such as smokers with a low socioeconomic position, often have more difficulty quitting smoking and often are more difficult to recruit for smoking cessation programs. It is important to know how vulnerable groups can be recruited and motivated to participate in a smoking cessation program and what participants and professionals perceive as effective elements.

METHODS Qualitative interviews were performed with participants of a community-based smoking cessation program in the Netherlands (n=18) and professionals involved in the recruitment of participants or as trainers in the community-based smoking cessation program (n=8). They were interviewed twice: once before the program had started and once after the program had ended. Interviews were semi-structured and conducted between September 2018 and February 2019.

RESULTS We found that organizing the program in the neighborhood lowered the threshold to participate, that registration should be quick and easy, that an active approach is needed, and that personal contact is important. This study also showed that information sharing, social support, commitment of the trainer, and personal contact are perceived as effective elements of such a program.

CONCLUSIONS This study shows that vulnerable smokers can be successfully recruited for a smoking cessation program. We recommend that such interventions include a group setting, extensive personal contact between participants and a committed trainer, and implementation of the program at a location in the neighborhood of the target group. Practical recommendations for professionals are to personally approach people multiple times if needed, to make sure that registration is quick and easy, and to fill in the registration form immediately during recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number64
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalTobacco prevention & cessation
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • qualitative research
  • smoking cessation
  • vulnerable groups
  • social class
  • community-based program

Cite this