420 Internet-based interventions may help smoking cessation

May 07, 2014

PEARLS 420, February 2014, written by Brian R McAvoy

Clinical question

How effective are internet-based interventions for smoking cessation?

Bottom line
A small number of studies provided some evidence of long-term (6 months or more) cessation benefits for programmes delivered by the internet compared with no-internet controls. Pooled results from a subgroup of studies comparing interactive and tailored internet-based interventions with usual care or printed self-help support detected evidence of a significant effect at 6 months or longer. Direct comparisons between different internet programs, including between tailored/interactive and non-tailored/non-interactive, did not detect significant differences. The internet may have an additional benefit when used alongside other interventions, such as nicotine replacement therapy or other pharmacotherapy. Innovative smoking cessation interventions delivered via the internet may be more attractive to young people and to women who smoke, and less attractive to smokers reporting depression.


Included studies were at high risk of bias, with substantial statistical heterogeneity.

The internet is now an indispensable part of daily life for the majority of people in many parts of the world. It offers an additional means of effecting changes to behaviour such as smoking.

Cochrane Systematic Review
Civljak M et al. Internet-based interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Reviews, 2013, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD007078.DOI: 10.1002/14651858. CD007078.pub4. This review contains 28 studies involving over 45,000 participants.

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.