Phone-based tobacco cessation program effectiveness has been established and randomized controlled trials have provided some support for Web-based services. Relatively little is known about who selects different treatment modalities and how they engage with treatments in a real-world setting.
This paper describes the characteristics, Web utilization patterns, and return rates of tobacco users who self-selected into a Web-based (Web-Only) versus integrated phone/Web (Phone/Web) cessation program.
We examined the demographics, baseline tobacco use, Web utilization patterns, and return rates of 141,429 adult tobacco users who self-selected into a Web-Only or integrated Phone/Web cessation program through 1 of 10 state quitlines from August 2012 through July 2013. For each state, registrants were only included from the timeframe in which both programs were offered to all enrollees. Utilization data were limited to site interactions occurring within 6 months after registration.
Most participants selected the Phone/Web program (113,019/141,429, 79.91%). After enrollment in Web services, Web-Only were more likely to log in compared to Phone/Web (21,832/28,410, 76.85% vs 23,920/56,892, 42.04%; P<.001), but less likely to return after their initial log-in (8766/21,832, 40.15% vs 13,966/23,920, 58.39%; P<.001). In bivariate and multivariable analyses, those who chose Web-Only were younger, healthier, more highly educated, more likely to be uninsured or commercially insured, more likely to be white non-Hispanic and less likely to be black non-Hispanic, less likely to be highly nicotine-addicted, and more likely to have started their program enrollment online (all P<.001). Among both program populations, participants were more likely to return to Web services if they were women, older, more highly educated, or were sent nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) through their quitline (all P<.001). Phone/Web were also more likely to return if they had completed a coaching call, identified as white non-Hispanic or “other” race, or were commercially insured (all P<.001). Web-Only were less likely to return if they started their enrollment online versus via phone. The interactive Tobacco Tracker, Cost Savings Calculator, and Quitting Plan were the most widely used features overall. Web-Only were more likely than Phone/Web to use most key features (all P<.001), most notably the 5 Quitting Plan behaviors. Among quitlines that offered NRT to both Phone/Web and Web-Only, Web-Only were less likely to have received quitline NRT.
This paper adds to our understanding of who selects different cessation treatment modalities and how they engage with the program in a real-world setting. Web-Only were younger, healthier smokers of higher socioeconomic status who interacted more intensely with services in a single session, but were less likely to re-engage or access NRT benefits. Further research should examine the efficacy of different engagement techniques and services with different subpopulations of tobacco users.