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Self-help program

homeLaunching QuitlinesOther Cessation ProgramsSelf-help Program

Group therapy is a common method of delivering smoking cessation interventions. Over 100 group therapies have been described. The purposes of group programs have been summarized as: to analyze motives for group   members’ behavior; to provide an opportunity for social learning; to generate emotional experiences; and to impart information and teach new skills. Group programs may be led by professional facilitators such as clinical psychologists, health educators, nurses or physicians, or occasionally by successful users of the program.

The implementation of smoking cessation programs in groups has been a popular method of delivering behavioral interventions. Behavioral interventions typically include such methods as coping and social skills training, contingency management, self control, and cognitivebehavioral interventions. The use of a group format for the delivery of a behavioral intervention appears to have two underlying rationales. Lying between self-help methods with minimal therapist contact and intensive individual counseling/therapy, a group might offer better cessation rates than the former with lower costs per smoker than the latter. There may be a specific therapeutic benefit of the group format in giving people who smoke the opportunity to share problems and experiences with others attempting to quit. This might lead to increased quit rates even compared to individual face-to-face methods.

More recent research has focused on identifying the components that contribute most to the success of the intervention. In particular, there is interest in ways to enhance programs with components which could be specifically helpful for those with poor success rates for quitting, such as people with histories of depressive disorder or substance abuse.

Group programs are more effective for helping people to stop smoking than being given self-help materials without face-to-face instruction and group support. The chances of quitting are approximately doubled. It is unclear whether groups are better than individual counseling or other advice, but they are more effective than no treatment. Not all smokers making a quit attempt want to attend group meetings, but for those who do they are likely to be helpful.