A recent Cochrane Review (“Enhancing Partner Support… 2018) concluded that the 11 RCTs indicate providing partner support to smokers trying to quit does not increase quit rates. There are multiple lines of evidence that partner support is associated with greater quitting. For example, living with another smoker decreases quit rates and if a smoker quits, his/her partner is more likely to later quit. Also, having a partner who is an ex-smoker increases quit rates, even more than having a never-smoker partner. Increasing partner support has been found effective for weight loss, diabetes compliance, and alcohol/drug abuse. In fact, partner participation is almost mandatory in many alcohol/drug clinics.
So why is it so hard to show that intervening on partner support is an effective intervention? Well, guess what- relationships are complicated! For example, where is the line between nagging and showing concern. And you might thinking getting a partner to quit with you is a good idea. But… if you think a relationship is difficult when one person can’t sleep is irritable and is hungry, think about having two people who can’t sleep and are irritable and hungry. And what happens when one smoker is finding quitting easy and the other finds it difficult and cheats. And remember, there are entire professions based on trying to figure out relationships.
But we need to figure out what to tell our clients trying to quit. I recommend two things. First, sit down with partner and ask them to do or not do certain things? If they are a smoker, discuss pros and cons of trying quit with you. Also, do you want them to ask how its going for you, to give suggestion on how to quit? Do you want them to know your irritability will get better over time? What can they do to help. What can they do that will make it harder.
Second, I recommend that, if the partner is a smoker and is not trying to quit, to hide their cigarettes, to not smoke in from of the smoker trying to quit.
Would love to hear other ideas to increase smoker support.