Within the framework of collaborative action research, the aim was to explore the feasibility of developing and embedding physical activity promotion as a smoking cessation aid within UK 6/7-week National Health Service (NHS) Stop Smoking Services.
In Phase 1 three initial cycles of collaborative action research (observation, reflection, planning, implementation and re-evaluation), in an urban Stop Smoking Service, led to the development of an integrated intervention in which physical activity was promoted as a cessation aid, with the support of a theoretically based self-help guide, and self monitoring using pedometers. In Phase 2 advisors underwent training and offered the intervention, and changes in physical activity promoting behaviour and beliefs were monitored. Also, changes in clients’ stage of readiness to use physical activity as a cessation aid, physical activity beliefs and behaviour and physical activity levels were assessed, among those who attended the clinic at 4-week post-quit. Qualitative data were collected, in the form of clinic observation, informal interviews with advisors and field notes.
The integrated intervention emerged through cycles of collaboration as something quite different to previous practice. Based on field notes, there were many positive elements associated with the integrated intervention in Phase 2. Self-reported advisors’ physical activity promoting behaviour increased as a result of training and adapting to the intervention. There was a significant advancement in clients’ stage of readiness to use physical activity as a smoking cessation aid.
Collaboration with advisors was key in ensuring that a feasible intervention was developed as an aid to smoking cessation. There is scope to further develop tailored support to increasing physical activity and smoking cessation, mediated through changes in perceptions about the benefits of, and confidence to do physical activity.