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Aims This study aimed to assess the effects of opportunistic brief physician advice to stop smoking and offer of assistance on incidence of attempts to stop and quit success in smokers not selected by motivation to quit. Methods We included relevant trials from the Cochrane Reviews of physician advice for smoking cessation, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), varenicline and bupropion. We extracted data on quit attempts and quit success. Estimates were combined using the Mantel-Haentszel method and heterogeneity assessed with the I 2 statistic. Study quality was assessed by method of randomization, allocation concealment and follow-up blind to allocation. Results Thirteen studies were included. Compared to no intervention, advice to quit on medical grounds increased the frequency of quit attempts [risk ratio (RR) 1.24, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16-1.33], but not as much as behavioural support for cessation (RR 2.17, 95% CI 1.52-3.11) or offering NRT (RR 1.68, 95% CI: 1.48-1.89). In a direct comparison, offering assistance generated more quit attempts than giving advice to quit on medical grounds (RR 1.69, 95% CI: 1.24-2.31 for behavioural support and 1.39, 95% CI: 1.25-1.54 for offering medication). There was evidence that medical advice increased the success of quit attempts and inconclusive evidence that offering assistance increased their success. Conclusions Physicians may be more effective in promoting attempts to stop smoking by offering assistance to all smokers than by advising smokers to quit and offering assistance only to those who express an interest in doing so. © 2011 The Authors, Addiction © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1066 - 1073