Are there ways to help partners to give more effective support to people who are trying to quit smoking

Smokers trying to quit who get support from partners and other people are more likely to quit. Interventions intended to improve the support received from partners have not been shown to increase long-term quit rates compared to smoking cessation programmes without a partner support component. The interventions may not have successfully changed the support provided.

Authors' conclusions: 

In this review of randomized controlled trials of interventions designed to enhance partner support for smokers in cessation programmes, we failed to detect an increase in quit rates. Limited data from several of the trials suggest that these interventions also did not increase partner support. No conclusions can be made about the impact of partner support on smoking cessation. Additional studies with larger samples are needed to adequately explore the effects of partner support interventions for smoking cessation.

Read the full abstract...

While many cessation programmes are available to assist smokers in quitting, research suggests that partner involvement may encourage long-term abstinence.


The purpose of this review was to determine if an intervention to enhance partner support helps smoking cessation when added as an adjunct to a smoking cessation programme, and to estimate the size of any effect.

Search strategy: 

For the most recent update, the search was limited to the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register. This was searched in December 2011. The Specialized Register includes reports of controlled trials of smoking cessation identified from electronic searches of the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) to Issue 4, 2011, MEDLINE to update 20110826, EMBASE to 2011 week 33, PsycINFO to 20110822 and Web of Science. The search terms used were smoking (prevention, control, therapy), smoking cessation, and support (family, marriage, spouse, partner, sexual partner, buddy, friend, co-habitees and co-worker).

Selection criteria: 

Randomized controlled trials of smoking cessation interventions that compared an intervention that included a partner support component with an otherwise identical intervention and reported follow-up of six months or longer.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two authors independently identified the included studies and extracted data using a structured form. A third author was consulted to aid in the resolution of discrepancies. Abstinence, biochemically validated if possible, was the primary outcome measure and was extracted at two post-treatment intervals: six to nine months and 12 months or greater. Partner Interaction Questionnaire and Support Provided Measure scores were also analysed to assess partner support. A fixed-effect model was used to pool relative risks from each study and estimate a summary effect.

Main results: 

A total of 57 articles were identified for this review. Twelve articles (13 studies, > 2000 participants) met the inclusion criteria. The definition of partner varied between studies. All studies gave self-reported smoking cessation rates, but there was limited biochemical validation of abstinence. The pooled risk ratio for self-reported abstinence was 0.99 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84 to 1.15) at six to nine months and 1.04 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.24) at 12 months or more post-treatment. Of the eight studies that measured partner support at follow-up, only two studies reported a significant increase in partner support in the intervention groups. One study reported a significant increase in partner support in the intervention group, but smokers' reports of partner support received did not differ significantly in this study.