Use of pre-enrollment randomization and delayed consent to maximize participation in a clinical trial of opt-in versus opt-out tobacco treatment.

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DOI: 10.1080/08897077.2022.2060441


Background: Enrollment in smoking cessation trials remain sub-optimal. The aim of this analysis was to determine the effectiveness of a modified Zelen's design in engaging hospitalized patients who smoke in a pragmatic OPT-IN versus OPT-OUT tobacco treatment trial. Methods: At bedside, clinical staff screened smokers for eligibility, randomized eligible into study arms, and delivered the appropriate treatment approach. Study staff called randomized patients at one-month post-discharge, debriefed patients on the study design, and collected consent to participate. We used frequencies and percentages for categorical variables and means and standard deviations for quantitative variables to describe the characteristics of those who consented and were enrolled versus those who did not enroll. We also compared the characteristics of participants who consented and those who were reached and explicitly refused consent at one-month follow-up. We used the Cohen's d measure of effect size to evaluate differences. Results: Of the 1,000 randomized, 741 (74.1%) consented to continue in the study at one-month follow-up. One hundred and twenty-seven (12.7%) refused consent and 132 (13.2%) were unreachable. Cohen's d effect size differences between those who consented/enrolled (n = 741) and those who were not enrolled (n = 259) were negligible (n = 741) and those who explicitly refused (n = 127) with respect to age (0.55) and self-pay or no insurance (0.51). There were small to negligible effect size differences with respect to sex, race/ethnicity, and other forms of health insurance. Conclusions: The modified Zelen's design resulted in successful enrollment of most participants who were initially randomized into the trial, including those not motivated to quit.

Journal Title

Substance abuse : official publication of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse





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Tobacco use disorder; Zelen’s design; hospitalized patients; motivation; randomized clinical trial; smoking cessation

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