In the Netherlands, 3.5 million people are smokers and each year around 20,000 people die from the effects of smoking. Daily smoking is more common among those with a low level of education than among those with a high level of education. A differentiated range of proven effective interventions is now available to help people quit smoking.
There are, however, various bottlenecks concerning guidance and participation in these interventions: Smokers with a lower level of education are less likely to find their way to behavioral support; the interventions available are not tailored to smokers with a lower level of education or literacy and there are challenges with regard to reimbursements. In addition, those with a lower level of education often have other things on their minds in their everyday lives, which may hinder their will to quit smoking. Examples include debt, unemployment, family problems, etc. A stop-smoking intervention for those with lower levels of education should therefore be embedded into a broader program where any underlying or deeper problems may be addressed.
An online stop-smoking intervention has been developed in the United Kingdom: StopAdvisor, which was tested for effectiveness in a randomized control trial (RCT). The intervention has the following characteristics: the program is personalized, aligns with the user’s personal motivation, uses techniques that improve the user’s mood, involves their social network and offers distraction during difficult moments, preventing relapse.
Several organizations, including Pharos, expertise center for health differences, are adapting the intervention to the Dutch situation under the name StopCoach. As part of this adaptation, an app is being developed and personal coaching is being added to it.
In any case, StopCoach will be tested in five municipalities. They will each adapt the program to local policy while preserving its essence.
Leiden University Medical Centre/Pharos