Effects of Offering Nicotine Patches, Incentives, or Both on Quitline Demand

Christopher M. Anderson, Carrie A. Kirby, Elisa Tong, Neal D. Kohatsu, Shu Hong Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: Previous studies found that offering free nicotine patches significantly increases calls to quitlines, although most used pre–post designs and did not directly compare the effects of patches and other incentives. The current study with California Medicaid members used a 2 × 2 design to directly assess the effects of offering free patches and incentives on calls to a quitline. The hypotheses were that offering either would make members more likely to call, and that offering both would increase demand even further. Methods: Flyers were inserted into a mailing sent to 4,268,696 Medicaid households, with one of four offers: (1) free counseling; (2) counseling plus patches; (3) counseling plus a $20 gift card; and (4) counseling plus patches and gift card. Ninety percent received the first offer and 10% received one of the other three offers, in equal proportions. The mailers shipped late 2013 to early 2014. Data were collected 2013–2015 and analyzed 2018. Results: Response rates were 0.029% for counseling, 0.115% for counseling plus patches, 0.122% for counseling plus gift card, and 0.200% for counseling, patches, and gift card. Both patches and gift cards had statistically significant effects (both p<0.001). Promotional costs were 59%–75% lower with an incentive. Non-whites responded more strongly than whites to a gift card offer. Conclusions: Offering either free patches or a $20 gift card quadrupled the likelihood of Medicaid smokers calling a quitline; offering both had a nearly additive effect. Incentive offers dramatically increased the cost-effectiveness of promotions. Piggybacking on existing Medicaid communications to promote cessation proved very successful. Supplement information: This article is part of a supplement entitled Advancing Smoking Cessation in California's Medicaid Population, which is sponsored by the California Department of Public Health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S170-S177
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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