Open Access Study protocol

Effectiveness of a web-based self-help smoking cessation intervention: protocol of a randomised controlled trial

Jeannet JAM Kramer1*, Marc C Willemsen2, Barbara Conijn1, Andrée J van Emst2, Suzanne Brunsting2 and Heleen Riper1

Author Affiliations

1 Innovation Centre of Mental Health and Technology (ICOM), Trimbos Institute, PO Box 725, 3500 AS Utrecht, the Netherlands

2 STIVORO, PO Box 16070, 2500 BB Den Haag, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2009, 9:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-32

Published: 22 January 2009



Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for many chronic and fatal illnesses. Stopping smoking directly reduces those risks. The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of a web-based interactive self-help programme for smoking cessation, known as the StopSite, by comparing it to an online self-help guide. Both interventions were based on cognitive-behavioural and self-control principles, but the former provided exercises, feedback and interactive features such as one-to-one chatrooms and a user forum, which facilitated mutual support and experience sharing.

Methods and design

We conducted a randomised controlled trial to compare the interactive intervention with the self-help guide. The primary outcome measure was prolonged abstinence from smoking. Secondary outcomes were point-prevalence abstinence, number of cigarettes smoked, and incidence of quit attempts reported at follow-up assessments. Follow-up assessments took place three and six months after a one-month grace period for starting the intervention after baseline. Analyses were based on intention-to-treat principles using a conservative imputation method for missing data, whereby non-responders were classified as smokers.


The trial should add to the body of knowledge on the effectiveness of web-based self-help smoking cessation interventions. Effective web-based programmes can potentially help large numbers of smokers to quit, thus having a major public health impact.

Trial registration