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Incentives for preventing smoking in children and adolescents

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2017
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (75th percentile)

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58 tweeters
2 Facebook pages


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164 Mendeley
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Incentives for preventing smoking in children and adolescents
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, June 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd008645.pub3
Pubmed ID

Marita Hefler, Selma C Liberato, David P Thomas


Adult smoking usually has its roots in adolescence. If individuals do not take up smoking during this period it is unlikely that they ever will. Further, once smoking becomes established, cessation is challenging; the probability of subsequently quitting is inversely proportional to the age of initiation. One novel approach to reducing the prevalence of youth smoking is the use of incentives. To assess the effect of incentives on preventing children and adolescents (aged 5 to 18 years) from starting to smoke. It was also our intention to assess, where possible, the dose-response of incentives, the costs of incentive programmes, whether incentives are more or less effective in combination with other interventions to prevent smoking initiation, and any unintended consequences arising from the use of incentives. For the original review (published 2012) we searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register, with additional searches of MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, CSA databases and PsycINFO for terms relating to incentives, in combination with terms for smoking and tobacco use, and children and adolescents. The most recent searches were of the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register, and were carried out in December 2016. We considered randomized controlled trials (RCTs) allocating children and adolescents (aged 5 to 18 years) as individuals, groups or communities to intervention or control conditions, where the intervention included an incentive aimed at preventing smoking uptake. We also considered controlled trials (CTs) with baseline measures and post-intervention outcomes. Two review authors extracted and independently assessed the data. The primary outcome was the smoking status of children or adolescents at follow-up who reported no smoking at baseline. We required a minimum follow-up of six months from baseline and assessed each included study for risks of bias. We used the most rigorous definition of abstinence in each trial; we did not require biochemical validation of self-reported tobacco use for study inclusion. Where possible we combined eligible studies to calculate pooled estimates at the longest follow-up, using the Mantel-Haenszel fixed-effect method, grouping studies by study design. We identified three eligible RCTs and five CTs, including participants aged 11 to 14 years, who were non-smokers at baseline. Of the eight trials identified, six had analyzable data relevant for this review, which contributed to meta-analyses (7275 participants in total: 4003 intervention; 3272 control; 2484 participants after adjusting for clustering). All except one of the studies tested the 'Smokefree Class Competition' (SFC), which has been widely implemented throughout Europe. In this competition, classes with youth generally between the ages of 11 and 14 years commit to being smoke-free for a six-month period, and report their smoking status regularly. If 90% or more of the class are non-smokers at the end of the six months, the class goes into a competition to win prizes. The one study that was not a trial of the SFC was a controlled trial in which schools in two communities were assigned to the intervention, with schools in a third community acting as controls. Students in the intervention community with lower smoking rates at the end of the project (one school year) received rewards.Most studies resulted in statistically non-significant results. Only one study of the SFC reported a significant effect of the competition on the prevention of smoking at the longest follow-up. However, this study was at risk of multiple biases, and when we calculated the adjusted risk ratio (RR) we no longer detected a statistically significant difference. The pooled RR for the more robust RCTs (3 studies, n = 3056 participants/1107 adjusted for clustering) suggests that there is no statistically significant effect of incentives, in the form of the SFC, to prevent smoking initiation among children and adolescents in the long term (RR 1.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84 to 1.19). Pooled results from the non-randomized trials also did not detect a significant effect of the SFC, and we were unable to extract data on our outcome of interest from the one trial that did not study the SFC. There is little robust evidence to suggest that unintended consequences (such as making false claims about their smoking status and bullying of smoking students) are consistently associated with such interventions, although this has not been the focus of much research. There was insufficient information to assess the dose-response relationship or to report costs of incentives for preventing smoking uptake.We judged the included RCTs to be at unclear risk of bias, and the non-RCTs to be at high risk of bias. Using GRADE, we rated the overall quality of the evidence for our primary outcome as 'low' (for RCTs) and 'very low' (for non-RCTs), because of imprecision (all studies had wide confidence intervals), and for the risks of bias identified. We further downgraded the non-RCT evidence, due to issues with the non-RCT study design, likely to introduce further bias. The very limited evidence currently available suggests that incentive programmes do not prevent smoking initiation among youth. However, there are relatively few published studies and these are of variable quality. In addition, trials included in the meta-analyses were all studies of the SFC, which distributed small to moderately-sized prizes to whole classes, usually through a lottery system. It is therefore possible that other incentive programmes could be more successful at preventing smoking uptake in young people.Future studies might investigate the efficacy of a wider range of incentives, including those given to individual participants to prevent smoking uptake, whilst considering both the effect of incentives on smoking initiation and the progression to smoking. It would be useful if incentives were evaluated in varying populations from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, and if intervention components were described in detail.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 58 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 164 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 1 <1%
Unknown 163 99%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Researcher 35 21%
Student > Master 25 15%
Student > Ph. D. Student 15 9%
Student > Bachelor 12 7%
Student > Doctoral Student 9 5%
Other 35 21%
Unknown 33 20%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 51 31%
Social Sciences 22 13%
Nursing and Health Professions 21 13%
Psychology 16 10%
Sports and Recreations 3 2%
Other 14 9%
Unknown 37 23%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 36. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 24 October 2017.
All research outputs
of 13,415,602 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 10,587 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 268,114 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 239 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 13,415,602 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 96th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 10,587 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 20.9. This one has done well, scoring higher than 86% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 268,114 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 239 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 75% of its contemporaries.