Identifying effective behavioural components of Intervention and Comparison group support provided in SMOKing cEssation (IC-SMOKE) interventions: a systematic review protocol

Marijn De Bruin* (Corresponding Author), Wolfgang Viechtbauer, Maarten C. Eisma, Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, Robert West, Eleanor Bull, Susan Michie, Marie Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Systematic reviews of behaviour change interventions for smoking cessation vary in scope, quality and applicability. The current review aims to generate more accurate and useful findings by: (1) detailed analysis of intervention elements that change behaviour (i.e., Behaviour Change Techniques (BCTs)) and potential moderators of behaviour change (i.e., other intervention and sample characteristics); and (2) assessing and controlling for variability in support provided to comparison groups in smoking cessation trials.

Methods: A systematic review will be conducted of randomised controlled trials of behaviour change interventions for smoking cessation in adults (with or without pharmacological support), with a minimum follow-up of 6 months, published after 1995. Eligible articles will be identified through the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register. Study authors will be asked for detailed descriptions of smoking cessation support provided to intervention and comparison groups. All data will be independently coded by two researchers. The BCT taxonomy v1 (tailored to smoking cessation interventions) and TIDieR criteria will be used to code intervention characteristics. Data collection will further include sample and trial characteristics and outcome data (smoking cessation rates). Multilevel mixed-effects meta-regression models will be used to examine which BCTs and/or BCT clusters delivered to intervention and comparison groups explain smoking cessation rates in treatment arms (and effect sizes), and what key moderators of behaviour change are. Predicted effect sizes of each intervention will be computed assuming all interventions are compared against comparison groups receiving the same levels of behavioural support (i.e., low, medium and high levels). Multi-disciplinary advisory board members (policy makers, health care providers, and (ex-)smokers) will provide strategic input throughout the project to ensure the review's applicability to policy and practice.

Discussion: By capturing BCTs in intervention and comparison groups, this systematic review will provide more accurate estimates of the effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions; the most promising BCTs and/or BCT clusters associated with smoking cessation rates in intervention and comparison arms; and important moderators of behaviour change. The results could set new standards for conducting meta-analyses of behaviour change interventions, and improve research, service delivery and training in the area of smoking cessation.

Systematic review registration: PROSPERO: CRD42015025251
Original languageEnglish
Article number77
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalSystematic reviews
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2016

Bibliographical note

We would also like to thank our advisory board members who have already given valuable input in the study design.

The research described in this paper is funded by Cancer Research UK, registered under application number C50862/A18446. The systematic review protocol reported in this paper was previously peer-reviewed by Cancer Research UK as part of the funding process. The funders had no role in protocol design, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


  • smoking cessation
  • systematic review
  • meta-analysis
  • meta-regression
  • behaviour change technique
  • intervention
  • comparison group
  • control group
  • randomized controlled trial
  • tobacco


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