Background: This article critically appraises a systematic review and meta-analysis conducted in 2016 that evaluated the efficacy of adjunctive smoking cessation counseling in patients with head and neck cancer.
Clinical question: In patients diagnosed with head and neck cancer, does smoking cessation intervention alone compared to smoking cessation intervention combined with counseling improve smoking cessation rates?
Summary of methods and results: An electronic search of three databases was performed. Two authors independently retrieved and analyzed full-text articles. Main outcomes analyzed were smoking cessation, measured via quit rate at or near 6-months of follow-up. The meta-analysis of the included RCTs and cohort studies found that intervention with counseling was statistically more effective than interventions without counseling. The summary estimate is reported as relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) (RR = 0.76; 95% CI = 0.59 to 0.97). Heterogeneity was low (I2 = 0%).
Critical appraisal: Evidence suggests that adding counseling to other smoking cessation interventions may help increase the chance that patients with head and neck cancer will stop smoking.
Practical implications: Continuing to smoke after a diagnosis of head and neck cancer may reduce the effectiveness of treatment and negatively impact long-term survival. Smoking cessation counseling appears to have helped those with head and neck cancer stop smoking and should be considered an option in addition to other smoking cessation interventions.