Previous studies of tobacco dependence treatment have reported very low cessation rates among smokers who relapse and return to make a subsequent formal attempt to quit. This retrospective cohort study examined 1745 patients who attended a tobacco dependence clinic between 2001 and 2005, and the characteristics and outcomes of those who relapsed and returned for repeat treatment. Patients who returned for repeat treatment showed higher markers of nicotine dependence and were more likely to have a history of treatment for mental health problems than patients who attended the clinic for only one treatment episode. Among patients who relapsed and returned for repeat treatment, the 26-week abstinence rates were similar for each consecutive quit attempt (23%, 22% and 20%). Clinicians should encourage smokers who relapse after an initial treatment episode to return for treatment, and repeat treatment should focus on addressing high nicotine dependence and potentially co-occurring mental health problems in order to improve cessation outcomes.
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