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Abstinence Reinforcement Therapy (ART) for rural veterans: Methodology for an mHealth smoking cessation intervention.

Wilson SM, Hair LP, Hertzberg JS, Kirby AC, Olsen MK, Lindquist JH, Maciejewski ML, Beckham JC, Calhoun PS. Abstinence Reinforcement Therapy (ART) for rural veterans: Methodology for an mHealth smoking cessation intervention. Contemporary clinical trials. 2016 Sep 1; 50:157-65.

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INTRODUCTION: Smoking is the most preventable cause of morbidity and mortality in U.S. veterans. Rural veterans in particular have elevated risk for smoking and smoking-related illness. However, these veterans underutilize smoking cessation treatment, which suggests that interventions for rural veterans should optimize efficacy and reach. OBJECTIVE: The primary goal of the current study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention that combines evidenced based treatment for smoking cessation with smart-phone based, portable contingency management on smoking rates compared to a contact control intervention in a randomized controlled trial among rural Veteran smokers. Specifically, Veterans will be randomized to receive Abstinence Reinforcement Therapy (ART) which combines evidenced based cognitive-behavioral telephone counseling (TC), a tele-medicine clinic for access to nicotine replacement (NRT), and mobile contingency management (mCM) or a control condition (i.e., TC and NRT alone) that will provide controls for therapist, medication, time and attention effects. METHODS: Smokers were identified using VHA electronic medical records and recruited proactively via telephone. Participants (N = 310) are randomized to either ART or a best practice control consisting of telephone counseling and telemedicine. Participating patients will be surveyed at 3-months, 6-months and 12-months post-randomization. The primary outcome measure is self-reported and biochemically validated prolonged abstinence at 6-month follow-up. DISCUSSION: This trial is designed to test the relative effectiveness of ART compared to a telehealth-only comparison group. Dissemination of this mHealth intervention for veterans in a variety of settings would be warranted if ART improves smoking outcomes for rural veterans and is cost-effective.

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