Public acceptability of financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy and breastfeeding: a survey of the British public

Hoddinott, P, Morgan, H, Sewel, K, Thomson, G orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3392-8182, Bauld, L, Yi, D, Ludbrook, A and Campbell, M (2014) Public acceptability of financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy and breastfeeding: a survey of the British public. BMJ Open, 4 . e005524. ISSN 2044-6055

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Objective: To survey public attitudes about incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy and for breast feeding to inform trial design.

Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting and participants: British general public.

Methods: Seven promising incentive strategies had been identified from evidence syntheses and qualitative interview data from service users and providers. These were shopping vouchers for: (1) validated smoking cessation in pregnancy and (2) after birth; (3) for a smoke-free home; (4) for proven breast feeding; (5) a free breast pump; (6) payments to health services for reaching smoking cessation in pregnancy targets and (7) breastfeeding targets. Ipsos MORI used area quota sampling and home-administered computer-assisted
questionnaires, with randomised question order to assess agreement with different incentives (measured on a five-point scale). Demographic data and target behaviour experience were recorded. Analysis used multivariable ordered logit models.

Results: Agreement with incentives was mixed (ranging from 34% to 46%) among a representative sample of 1144 British adults. Mean agreement score was highest for a free breast pump, and lowest for incentives for smoking abstinence after birth. More women disagreed with shopping vouchers than men. Those with lower levels of education disagreed more
with smoking cessation incentives and a breast pump. Those aged 44 or under agreed more with all incentive strategies compared with those aged 65 and over, particularly provider targets for smoking cessation. Non-white ethnic groups agreed particularly with breastfeeding incentives. Current smokers with previous stop attempts and respondents who had breast fed children agreed with providing vouchers for
the respective behaviours. Up to £40/month vouchers for behaviour change were acceptable (>85%).

Conclusions: Women and the less educated were more likely to disagree, but men and women of childbearing age to agree, with incentives designed for their benefit. Trials evaluating reach, impact on health inequalities and ethnic groups are required prior to implementing incentive interventions.

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