Participation in a workplace smoking cessation program incentivized by lowering the cost of health care coverage: Findings from the LLUH BREATHE cohort
Olivia Moses 1, 2
Brenda Rea 2
Ernie Medina 2
Mark Hubbard 2
Kelly Morton 3
Pramil N. Singh 2, 4  
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Risk Management, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, United States
School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, United States
School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, United States
Transdisciplinary Tobacco Research Program, Cancer Center, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, United States
Pramil N. Singh   

School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92350, United States
Publication date: 2020-04-07
Submission date: 2019-10-30
Final revision date: 2020-02-06
Acceptance date: 2020-02-17
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(April):23
Systematic analyses of workplace smoking cessation programs indicate that efficacy can be enhanced by using incentives. There is variation in the type of incentives used and their effect on participation and efficacy. The aim of our study was to examine whether lowering employee health plan costs (employee contributions, co-pays) encourage employee smokers to participate in workplace smoking cessation.

We conducted a 2014–2015 prospective cohort study of 415 employee smokers of Loma Linda University Health (LLUH). The employees were offered participation in a workplace smoking cessation program (LLUH BREATHE Initiative) with the incentive of enrollment in an employer-provided health plan that had a 50% lower employee monthly contribution and co-payment relative to the employer-provided health plan for non-participants. Participation rates and variables associated with participation were analyzed.

In the LLUH BREATHE cohort, we found a very high rate of participation (72.7%; 95% CI: 69–77%) in workplace smoking cessation that was encouraged by a lower out-of-pocket health plan cost for the participating employee and/or spouse. Participation did, however, vary by gender and spouse, whereby female employee households with a qualifying smoker were more than two times more likely (employee: OR=2.89, 95% CI: 1.59–5.24; or spouse: OR=2.71, 95% CI: 1.47–5.00) to participate in smoking cessation than male employee households. The point prevalence, at four months, of abstinence from smoking among the participants was 48% (95% CI: 42–54%).

Our findings indicate that a workplace smoking cessation program that uses a novel reward-based incentive of lower out-of-pocket health plan costs results in a participation rate that is much higher than US norms.

The authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none was reported.
The study was funded by a Loma Linda University Risk Management Health Plan award given to the Center for Health Research at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University.
Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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