Background: Secondhand smoke can cause adverse pregnancy outcomes, yet there is a lack of effective smoking cessation interventions targeted at expectant fathers. We examined the effectiveness of a video-based smoking cessation intervention focusing on maternal and child health in promoting quitting among expectant fathers. Methods and findings: A single-blind, 3-arm, randomized controlled trial was conducted at the obstetrics registration centers of 3 tertiary public hospitals in 3 major cities (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Foshan) in China. Smoking expectant fathers who registered with their pregnant partners were invited to participate in this study. Between 14 August 2017 to 28 February 2018, 1,023 participants were randomized to a video (n = 333), text (n = 322), or control (n = 368) group. The video and text groups received videos or text messages on the risks of smoking for maternal and child health via instant messaging. The control group received a leaflet with information on smoking cessation. Follow-up visits were conducted at 1 week and at 1, 3, and 6 months. The primary outcome, by intention to treat (ITT), was validated abstinence from smoking at the 6-month follow-up. The secondary outcomes included 7-day point prevalence of abstinence (PPA) and level of readiness to quit at each follow-up. The mean age of participants was 32 years, and about half of them were first-time expectant fathers. About two-thirds of participants had completed tertiary education. The response rate was 79.7% (815 of 1,023) at 6 months. The video and text groups had higher rates of validated abstinence than the control group (video group: 22.5% [75 of 333], P < 0.001; text group: 14.9% [48 of 322], P = 0.02; control group: 9.2% [34 of 368]) with adjusted odds ratios (ORs) of 2.80 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.79-4.37, P < 0.001) in the video group and 1.70 (95% CI: 1.06-2.74, P = 0.03) in the text group. The video and text groups differed in the rates of validated abstinence (22.5% versus 14.9%, P = 0.008; adjusted OR: 1.64, 95% CI: 1.10- 2.46, P = 0.02). The video and text groups had higher rates of 7-day PPA than the control group at 6 months (video group: 24.6% [82 of 333] versus 11.4% [42 of 368], P < 0.001; text group: 17.4% [56 of 333] versus 11.4% [42 of 368], P = 0.02). The video and text groups also differed in the rates of 7-day PPA (24.6% versus 17.4%, P = 0.02). Excluding the quitters, the video and text groups had higher levels of readiness to quit than the control group at 6 months (video group: 43.5% [109 of 251] versus 31.6% [103 of 326], P = 0.002; text group: 40.6% [108 of 266] versus 31.6% [103 of 326], P = 0.01), No such difference was detected between the video and text groups (43.5% versus 40.6%, P = 0.29). The study was limited in that the long-term effectiveness of the intervention is uncertain. Conclusions: This smoking cessation intervention for expectant fathers that focused on explaining the ramifications of smoking on maternal and child health was effective and feasible in promoting quitting, and video messages were more effective than texts in delivering the information.
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