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Interpersonal Communication and Smoking Cessation in the Context of an Incentive-Based Program: Survey Evidence From a Telehealth Intervention in a Low-Income Population
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  • Alternative Title:
    J Health Commun
  • Description:
    The tobacco epidemic disproportionately affects low-income populations, and telehealth is an evidence-based strategy for extending tobacco cessation services to underserved populations. A public health priority is to establish incentive-based interventions at the population level in order to promote long-term smoking cessation in low-income populations. Yet randomized clinical trials show that financial incentives tend to encourage only short-term steps of cessation, not continuous smoking abstinence. One potential mechanism for increasing long-term cessation is interpersonal communication (IPC) in response to population-level interventions. However, more research is needed on IPC and its influence on health behavior change, particularly in the context of incentive-based, population-level programs. This study used survey data gathered after a population-level telehealth intervention that offered $20 incentives to low-income smokers for being connected to Minnesota's free quitline in order to examine how perceived incentive importance and IPC about the incentive-based program relate to both short-term and long-term health behavior change. Results showed that IPC was strongly associated with initial quitline utilization and continuous smoking abstinence as measured by 30-day point prevalence rates at 7-month follow-up. Perceived incentive importance had weak associations with both measures of cessation, and all associations were nonsignificant in models adjusting for IPC. These results were found in descriptive analyses, logistic regression models, and Heckman probit models that adjusted for participant recruitment. In sum, a behavioral telehealth intervention targeting low-income smokers that offered a financial incentive inspired IPC, and this social response was strongly related to utilization of intervention services as well as continuous smoking abstinence.
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