Effect of 3 months and 12 months of financial incentives on 12-month postpartum smoking cessation maintenance: a randomised controlled trial



Ussher M, Best C, Lewis S, McKell J, Coleman T, Cooper S, Orton S & Bauld L (2024) Effect of 3 months and 12 months of financial incentives on 12-month postpartum smoking cessation maintenance: a randomised controlled trial. Addiction.

Background and aims Offering financial incentives is effective for smoking cessation during pregnancy. We tested the effectiveness of financial incentives for maintaining postpartum cessation, comparing 12-month and 3-month incentives with each other and with usual care (UC). Design, setting and participants This study was a pragmatic, multi-centre, three-arm randomized controlled trial involving four English, National Health Service, stop smoking services. A total of 462 postpartum women (aged ≥ 16 years) took part, who stopped smoking during pregnancy with financial incentives, validated as abstinent from smoking at end of pregnancy or early postpartum. Interventions Interventions comprised (i) UC; (ii) UC plus up to £60 of financial voucher incentives offered to participants and £60 offered to an optional significant-other supporter, over 3 months postpartum, contingent upon validated abstinence (‘3-month incentives’); or (iii) UC plus ‘3-month incentives’ plus £180 of vouchers offered to participants over 9 months postpartum, contingent upon abstinence (‘12-month incentives’). Measurements Primary outcome: biochemically validated abstinence at 1 year postpartum. To adjust for testing all comparisons between groups with equal precision, P < 0.017 was necessary for significance. Secondary outcomes: self-reported and validated abstinence at 3 months postpartum; self-reported abstinence at 1 year postpartum. Findings Primary outcome ascertainment: abstinence was 39.6% (63/159) 12 months incentives, 21.4% (33/154) 3 months incentives and 28.2% (42/149) UC. Adjusted odds ratios [95% confidence interval (CI)] = 12-month versus 3-month incentives OR = 2.41 (95% CI = 1.46−3.96), P = 0.001; 12 months versus UC 1.67 (1.04−2.70), P = 0.035; 3 months versus UC 0.69 (0.41−1.17), P = 0.174. Bayes factors indicated that for 12-month versus 3-month incentives and 12 months versus UC there was good evidence for the alternative hypothesis, and for 3 months versus UC there was good evidence for the null hypothesis. Conclusions This randomized controlled trial provides weak evidence that up to £300 of voucher incentives over 12 months is effective for maintaining smoking abstinence postpartum compared with usual care. There was good evidence that 12-month incentives are superior to those over only 3 months, for which there was no evidence of effectiveness relative to usual care.

Abstinence; financial incentives; intervention; postpartum; pregnancy; randomized controlled trial; relapse; smoking; vouchers


StatusIn Press
FundersGreater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership
Publication date online30/04/2024
Date accepted by journal28/02/2024

People (3)


Dr Catherine Best

Dr Catherine Best

Lecturer Statistician, Institute for Social Marketing

Miss Jennifer McKell

Miss Jennifer McKell

Research Fellow 1, Institute for Social Marketing

Professor Michael Ussher

Professor Michael Ussher

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Institute for Social Marketing