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Smoking in pregnancy

Enhancing NHS behavioural smoking cessation support for pregnant women 

What we are doing:

Smoking in pregnancy is a serious public health problem which, across the UK, the NHS stop smoking services (SSS) are trying to address. Strong research evidence shows that one-to-one behavioural support delivered by trained smoking cessation advisors helps pregnant smokers to stop; however, it is difficult to deliver this effective treatment to a consistently high standard. Across the UK, provision of behavioural support for pregnant smokers is patchy; while some SSS offer pregnancy-specific treatment programmes, many still use generic cessation support with pregnant clients. This would be improved by identifying and broadening the range of pregnancy-specific behaviour change techniques available to NHS cessation advisors.

This study will develop evidence-based behaviour change techniques (BCTs) to be applied within NHS behavioural support sessions for pregnant smokers and to integrate these into mandatory training for NHS staff and hence, into routine clinical care.

Why are we doing it:

Pregnant smokers are most likely to engage with behavioural support if suggested techniques are relevant to their lives and easy to understand and use. Across England, behavioural support is not consistently offered to pregnant smokers; nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), for which there is no evidence of efficacy in pregnant smokers, is often prioritised over behavioural support. In addition, the generic cessation support may not always be appropriate in pregnancy.

What the benefits will be:

A core set of BCTs will be identified in existing interventions and new BCTs will be developed for encouraging pregnant women to stop smoking, to integrate these into standard NHS training programmes. This training will be refined, as appropriate, using feedback from health professionals who will have experienced this.

Who we are working with:

  • Northamptonshire County Council
  • NHS Nottingham City CCG
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Nottingham ‘Smokers’ Panel
  • National Centre for Smoking Cessation Training

Study lead:

Professor Tim Coleman, Queen’s Medical Centre, University of Nottingham


Yvonne R Price