Open Access Research article

Provision of relapse prevention interventions in UK NHS Stop Smoking Services: a survey

Shade A Agboola1*, Tim J Coleman2, Jo A Leonardi-Bee1, Andy McEwen3 and Ann D McNeill1

Author Affiliations

1 UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

2 UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK

3 Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, University College London, London, UK

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BMC Health Services Research 2010, 10:214  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-214

Published: 20 July 2010



UK NHS Stop Smoking Services provide cost effective smoking cessation interventions but, as yet, there has been no assessment of their provision of relapse prevention interventions.


Electronic questionnaire survey of 185 UK Stop Smoking Services Managers.


Ninety six Stop Smoking Service managers returned completed questionnaires (52% response rate). Of these, 58.3% (n = 56) ran NHS Stop Smoking Services which provided relapse prevention interventions for clients with the most commonly provided interventions being behavioural support: telephone (77%), group (73%), and individual (54%). Just under half (48%, n = 27) offered nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), 21.4% (n = 12) bupropion; 19.6% (n = 11) varenicline. Over 80% of those providing relapse prevention interventions do so for over six months. Nearly two thirds of all respondents thought it was likely that they would either continue to provide or commence provision of relapse prevention interventions in their services. Of the remaining respondents, 66.7% (n = 22) believed that the government focus on four-week quit rates, and 42.9% (14 services) believed that inadequate funding for provision of relapse prevention interventions, were major barriers to introducing these interventions into routine care.


Just over half of UK managers of NHS Stop Smoking Services who responded to the questionnaire reported that, in their services, relapse prevention interventions were currently provided for clients, despite, at that time, there being a weak evidence base for their effectiveness. The most commonly provided relapse prevention interventions were those for which there was least evidence. If these interventions are found to be effective, barriers would need to be removed before they would become part of routine care.