Research on smoking cessation

Below are hypnosis research abstracts related to smoking cessation.

Some of the abstracts come from, which is on the website of the NIH (National Institutes of Health). If you’re a research fan, it’s a great site with advanced search options. If you have any questions about how hypnosis helps people to quit smoking, feel free to contact me.

One thing that shines through in smoking cessation research is that group hypnosis produces smaller success rates versus customized hypnosis for the individual.

If I were asked to design a group program for a research study, I would tackle the main problem in smoking cessation research: the generic nature of the hypnosis system.

I would get around that problem by adding in plenty of customization into the group system. If you’re a hypnotherapist reading this, you might say, “But William, there’s no way a group system can be customized enough to compete with private sessions.”

And I would reply, “Good point. And researchers can’t study private sessions, because other researchers wouldn’t be able to recreate the results. And if they can’t duplicate the great results, then the great results don’t count. That’s why researchers prefer to study generic systems.”

But I would do my best to add more customization to get around the problem of a generic system. To really do it well, I think the smoking cessation study would require many more sessions than what researchers currently do. Though my version of the study would take longer, I believe this customized study would have a much higher success rate. And that means more people would be free of smoking, forever.

Freedom from smoking: integrating hypnotic methods and rapid smoking to facilitate smoking cessation.
Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2001 Jul;49(3):257-66.
Barber J.
Depts. of Anesthesiology and Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, 5738 35th Ave, NE, Seattle, WA 98105-2334, USA.

Hypnotic intervention can be integrated with a Rapid Smoking treatment protocol for smoking cessation. Reported here is a demonstration of such an integrated approach, including a detailed description of treatment rationale and procedures for such a short-term intervention. Of 43 consecutive patients undergoing this treatment protocol, 39 reported remaining abstinent at follow-up (6 months to 3 years posttreatment).

Clinical hypnosis for smoking cessation: preliminary results of a three-session intervention.
Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2004 Jan;52(1):73-81.
Elkins GR, Rajab MH.
Texas A&M University System Health Science Center College of Medicine, USA.

This study presents preliminary data regarding hypnosis treatment for smoking cessation in a clinical setting. An individualized, 3-session hypnosis treatment is described. Thirty smokers enrolled in an HMO were referred by their primary physician for treatment. Twenty-one patients returned after an initial consultation and received hypnosis for smoking cessation. At the end of treatment, 81% of those patients reported that they had stopped smoking, and 48% reported abstinence at 12 months posttreatment. Most patients (95%) were satisfied with the treatment they received. Recommendations for future research to empirically evaluate this hypnosis treatment are discussed.

Hypnosis for smoking cessation: a randomized trial.
Nicotine Tob Res. 2008 May;10(5):811-8. doi: 10.1080/14622200802023833.
Carmody TP, Duncan C, Simon JA, Solkowitz S, Huggins J, Lee S, Delucchi K.
San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.

The purpose of this study was to determine whether hypnosis would be more effective in helping smokers quit than standard behavioral counseling when both interventions are combined with nicotine patches (NP). A total of 286 current smokers were enrolled in a randomized controlled smoking cessation trial at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Participants in both treatment conditions were seen for two 60-min sessions, and received three follow-up phone calls and 2 months of NP. At 6 months, 29% of the hypnosis group reported 7-day point-prevalence abstinence compared with 23% of the behavioral counseling group (relative risk [RR] = 1.27; 95% confidence interval, CI 0.84-1.92).

Based on biochemical or proxy confirmation, 26% of the participants in the hypnosis group were abstinent at 6 months compared with 18% of the behavioral group (RR = 1.44; 95% CI 0.91-2.30). At 12 months, the self-reported 7-day point-prevalence quit rate was 24% for the hypnosis group and 16% for the behavioral group (RR = 1.47; 95% CI 0.90-2.40). Based on biochemical or proxy confirmation, 20% of the participants in the hypnosis group were abstinent at 12 months compared with 14% of the behavioral group (RR = 1.40; 95% CI 0.81-2.42).

Among participants with a history of depression, hypnosis yielded significantly higher validated point-prevalence quit rates at 6 and 12 months than standard treatment. It was concluded that hypnosis combined with NP compares favorably with standard behavioral counseling in generating long-term quit rates.

Predictors of smoking abstinence following a single-session restructuring intervention with self-hypnosis.
Am J Psychiatry. 1993 Jul;150(7):1090-7.
Spiegel D, Frischholz EJ, Fleiss JL, Spiegel H.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, CA 94305.


This study examined the relation of smoking and medical history, social support, and hypnotizability to outcome of a smoking cessation program.

A consecutive series of 226 smokers referred for the smoking cessation program were treated with a single-session habit restructuring intervention involving self-hypnosis. They were then followed up for 2 years. Total abstinence from smoking after the intervention was the criterion for successful outcome.

Fifty-two percent of the study group achieved complete smoking abstinence 1 week after the intervention; 23% maintained their abstinence for 2 years. Hypnotizability and having been previously able to quit smoking for at least a month significantly predicted the initiation of abstinence. Hypnotizability and living with a significant other person predicted 2-year maintenance of treatment response.

These results, while modest, are superior to those of spontaneous efforts to stop smoking. Furthermore, they suggest that it is possible to predict which patients are most likely and which are least likely to respond to such brief smoking cessation interventions.