• Exploring pregnant women’s experiences of stopping smoking with an incentive scheme with ‘enhanced’ support: a qualitative study

      McCormack, Fiona C; Hopley, Rachel; Boath, Elizabeth H; Parry, Sian L; Roscoe, Suzie M; Stewart, Antony; Birch, Victoria A (SAGE, 2022-07-05)
      Aim: This study aims to understand pregnant women’s experiences of smoking cessation with an incentive scheme in a deprived UK city. This is important because smoking cessation with pregnant women is one of the most crucial public health initiatives to promote, and is particularly challenging in deprived areas. While financial incentive schemes are controversial, there is a need to better understand pregnant women’s experiences. The scheme combined quasi-financial incentives (shopping vouchers) for validated quits (carbon monoxide (CO) validated at < 10 ppm), enhanced support from smoking cessation advisors, the opportunity to identify a ‘Significant Other Supporter’ and nicotine replacement therapy. Methods: With the focus on understanding pregnant women’s experiences, a qualitative design was adopted. Semi-structured interviews were completed with 12 pregnant women from the scheme, and the three advisors. All interviews were transcribed, and thematic analysis conducted. Results: Pregnant women reported various challenges to quitting, including long-established routines, and stress. Participants were aware of stigma around incentives but were all very positive about the scheme. The relationship with advisors was described as fundamental. The women valued their advice and support, while uptake of the ‘Significant Other Supporter’ appeared low. Participants viewed the CO monitoring as ‘an incentive’, while the vouchers were framed as a ‘bonus’. Advisors perceived the vouchers as helping engage pregnant women and maintain quit status, and women appreciated the vouchers both as financial assistance and recognition of their accomplishments. Conclusion: This study highlights the great value women placed on the support, advice and monitoring from specialist advisors. The distinction between vouchers as a welcomed bonus, rather than ‘the incentive’ to engage, is important. How smoking cessation and schemes to promote this are communicated to pregnant women and health professionals is important, particularly given the stigma and controversy involved.