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Implementation strategies to increase smoking cessation treatment provision in primary care: a systematic review of observational studies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Article number32
JournalBMC Primary Care
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jan 2023
Accepted/In press12 Jan 2023
E-pub ahead of print25 Jan 2023
PublishedDec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was conducted as a part of BT’s PhD (Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS-DTP) 1 + 3 award, es/p000703/1). This work was supported by the UK Prevention Research Partnership (MR/S037519/1), which is funded by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Natural Environment Research Council, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), The Health Foundation and Wellcome. The funders had no role in the design of the study, or the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, or in writing of the manuscript. Publisher Copyright: © 2023, The Author(s).


King's Authors


Background: Internationally, there is an ‘evidence-practice gap’ in the rate healthcare professionals assess tobacco use and offer cessation support in clinical practice, including primary care. Evidence is needed for implementation strategies enacted in the ‘real-world’. Aim: To identify implementation strategies aiming to increase smoking cessation treatment provision in primary care, their effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and any perceived facilitators and barriers for effectiveness.

Methods: ‘Embase’, ‘Medline’, ‘PsycINFO’, ‘CINAHL’, ‘Global Health’, ‘Social Policy & Practice’, ‘ASSIA Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts’ databases, and grey literature sources were searched from inception to April 2021. Studies were included if they evaluated an implementation strategy implemented on a nation-/state-wide scale, targeting any type of healthcare professional within the primary care setting, aiming to increase smoking cessation treatment provision. Primary outcome measures: implementation strategy identification, and effectiveness (practitioner-/patient-level). Secondary outcome measures: perceived facilitators and barriers to effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness. Studies were assessed using the Risk Of Bias In Non-randomized Studies of Interventions (ROBINS-I) tool. A narrative synthesis was conducted using the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) compilation and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR).

Results: Of 49 included papers, half were of moderate/low risk of bias. The implementation strategy domains identified involved utilizing financial strategies, changing infrastructure, training and educating stakeholders, and engaging consumers. The first three increased practitioner-level smoking status recording and cessation advice provision. Interventions in the utilizing financial strategies domain also appeared to increase smoking cessation (patient-level). Key facilitator: external policies/incentives (tobacco control measures and funding for public health and cessation clinics). Key barriers: time and financial constraints, lack of free cessation medications and follow-up, deprioritisation and unclear targets in primary care, lack of knowledge of healthcare professionals, and unclear messaging to patients about available cessation support options. No studies assessed cost-effectiveness.

Conclusions: Some implementation strategy categories increased the rate of smoking status recording and cessation advice provision in primary care. We found some evidence for interventions utilizing financial strategies having a beneficial impact on cessation. Identified barriers to effectiveness should be reduced. More pragmatic approaches are recommended, such as hybrid effectiveness-implementation designs and utilising Multiphase Optimization Strategy methodology.

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