BACKGROUND: Cigarette smoking by surgical patients is associated with increased complications, particularly perioperative respiratory problems and poor wound healing. In this study, we sought to determine whether a pragmatic perioperative smoking cessation intervention designed for a busy preadmission clinic would be successful in reducing smoking rates and intraoperative and immediate postoperative complications.
METHODS: This randomized controlled trial was conducted at a university-affiliated hospital in London, Ontario, Canada. Patients seen in the preadmission clinic at least 3 weeks preoperatively were randomized to either the control group (84 patients) or the intervention group (84 patients). The control group received no specific smoking cessation intervention. The intervention group received (1) brief counseling by the preadmission nurse, (2) brochures on smoking cessation, (3) referral to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline, and (4) a free 6-week supply of transdermal nicotine replacement therapy. All outcome assessors and caregivers on the operative day were blinded to group assignment. The primary outcome was the rate of smoking cessation as confirmed by exhaled carbon monoxide breath test. Secondary outcomes included perioperative complications and smoking status at 30 days postoperatively.
RESULTS: Between October 2010 and April 2012, 168 patients were recruited into the study. Smoking cessation occurred in 12 patients (14.3%) in the intervention group as compared with 3 patients (3.6%) in the control group (relative risk 4.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2–13.7; P = 0.03). The overall rate of combined intraoperative and immediate postoperative complications was not significantly different between intervention and control groups (13.1% and 16.7%, respectively; relative risk 0.79; 95% CI, 0.38–1.63; P = 0.67). At follow-up 30 days postoperatively, smoking cessation was reported in 22 patients (28.6%) in the intervention group compared with 8 patients (11%) in controls (relative risk 2.6; 95% CI, 1.2–5.5; P = 0.008).
CONCLUSIONS: One of the objections to widespread use of smoking cessation interventions in the preadmission clinic is that it is too labor-intensive. The results of this study show that a smoking cessation intervention, designed to minimize additional use of physician or nursing time, results in decreased smoking rates on the day of surgery and promotes abstinence 30 days postoperatively.