Open Access Research article

A randomised controlled trial of a smoking cessation intervention delivered by dental hygienists: a feasibility study

Vivian I Binnie1*, Siobhan McHugh1, William Jenkins1, William Borland2 and Lorna M Macpherson1

Author Affiliations

1 Glasgow Dental Hospital and School, 378 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow, UK

2 Department of Biochemistry, Gartnavel Hospital, Glasgow, UK

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BMC Oral Health 2007, 7:5  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-7-5

Published: 2 May 2007



Tobacco use continues to be a global public health problem. Helping patients to quit is part of the preventive role of all health professionals. There is now increasing interest in the role that the dental team can play in helping their patients to quit smoking. The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of undertaking a randomised controlled smoking cessation intervention, utilising dental hygienists to deliver tobacco cessation advice to a cohort of periodontal patients.


One hundred and eighteen patients who attended consultant clinics in an outpatient dental hospital department (Periodontology) were recruited into a trial. Data were available for 116 participants, 59 intervention and 57 control, and were analysed on an intention-to-treat basis. The intervention group received smoking cessation advice based on the 5As (ask, advise, assess, assist, arrange follow-up) and were offered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), whereas the control group received 'usual care'. Outcome measures included self-reported smoking cessation, verified by salivary cotinine measurement and CO measurements. Self-reported measures in those trial participants who did not quit included number and length of quit attempts and reduction in smoking.


At 3 months, 9/59 (15%) of the intervention group had quit compared to 5/57 (9%) of the controls. At 6 months, 6/59 (10%) of the intervention group quit compared to 3/57 (5%) of the controls. At one year, there were 4/59 (7%) intervention quitters, compared to 2/59 (4%) control quitters. In participants who described themselves as smokers, at 3 and 6 months, a statistically higher percentage of intervention participants reported that they had had a quit attempt of at least one week in the preceding 3 months (37% and 47%, for the intervention group respectively, compared with 18% and 16% for the control group).


This study has shown the potential that trained dental hygienists could have in delivering smoking cessation advice. While success may be modest, public health gain would indicate that the dental team should participate in this activity. However, to add to the knowledge-base, a multi-centred randomised controlled trial, utilising biochemical verification would be required to be undertaken.