Helping smokers with depression to quit smoking: collaborative care with Quitline

Catherine J Segan, Ron Borland, Kay A Wilhelm, Sunil S Bhar, Ainslie T Hannan, David R Dunt and Ian T Ferretter
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (3): 7.


Objectives: To report smokers’ evaluations and uptake of Quitline–doctor comanagement of smoking cessation and depression, a key component of the Victorian Quitline’s tailored call-back service for smokers with a history of depression and to explore its relationship to quitting success.

Design, participants and setting: Prospective study followed Quitline clients disclosing doctor-diagnosed depression (n = 227). Measures were taken at baseline (following initial Quitline call), posttreatment (2 months) and 6 months from recruitment (77% and 70% response rates, respectively).

Main outcome measures: Uptake of comanagement (initiated by fax-referral to Quitline), making a quit attempt (quit for 24 hours), sustained cessation (> 4 months at 6-month follow-up).

Results: At 2-month follow-up, 83% thought it was a good idea to involve their doctor in their quit attempt, 74% had discussed quitting with their doctor, and 43% had received comanagement. In all, 72% made a quit attempt, 37% and 33% were abstinent posttreatment and at 6 months, respectively, and 20% achieved sustained cessation. Among participants who discussed quitting with their doctor, those receiving comanagement were more likely to make a quit attempt than those who did not receive comanagement (78% v 63%). Participants with comanagement also received more Quitline calls (mean 4.6 v 3.1) — a predictor of sustained cessation. Exacerbation of depression between baseline and 6 months was reported by 18% of participants but was not related to cessation outcome.

Conclusion: Quitline–doctor comanagement of smoking cessation and depression is workable, is valued by smokers, and increases the probability of quit attempts. Smoking cessation did not increase the risk of exacerbation of depression.

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  • Catherine J Segan1
  • Ron Borland2
  • Kay A Wilhelm3
  • Sunil S Bhar4
  • Ainslie T Hannan2
  • David R Dunt1
  • Ian T Ferretter2

  • 1 School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 The Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, NSW.
  • 4 Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC.



We thank participating Quitline clients, Quitline advisers for recruitment, and the research interviewers Diane Abbott, Anthony Talbot, and Jessica Ross. The project was primarily funded by the Victorian Centre of Excellence in Depression and Related Disorders, an initiative between beyondblue and the State Government of Victoria, with contribution from Quit Victoria.

Competing interests:

Ainslie Hannan and Ian Ferretter are employed by Quit Victoria. Together with Catherine Segan, Kay Wilhelm and Sunil Bhar, they developed and implemented Quit Victoria’s tailored service for depression-history smokers evaluated in this study. Ron Borland is employed by The Cancer Council Victoria, which houses Victoria’s Quitline. He has conducted research on the Quitline and has an ongoing interest in helping them improve the quality of their services.

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