A feasibility study with embedded pilot randomised controlled trial and process evaluation of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation in patients with periodontitis

Richard Holliday (Lead / Corresponding author), Philip M. Preshaw, Vicky Ryan, Falko F. Sniehotta, Suzanne McDonald, Linda Bauld, Elaine McColl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for several oral diseases, including periodontitis, and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are increasingly being used for smoking cessation. This study aimed to assess the viability of delivering and evaluating an e-cigarette intervention for smoking cessation within the dental setting, prior to a definitive study.

Methods: A feasibility study, comprising a pilot randomised controlled trial and qualitative process evaluation, was conducted over 22 months in the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Dental Clinical Research Facility, UK. The pilot trial comprised a two-armed, parallel group, individually randomised, controlled trial, with 1:1 allocation. Participant eligibility criteria included being a tobacco smoker, having periodontitis and not currently using an e-cigarette. All participants received standard non-surgical periodontal therapies and brief smoking cessation advice. The intervention group additionally received an e-cigarette starter kit with brief training. Proposed outcomes for a future definitive trial, in terms of smoking behaviour and periodontal/oral health, were collected over 6 months to assess data yield and quality and estimates of parameters. Analyses were descriptive, with 95% confidence intervals presented, where appropriate.

Results: Eighty participants were successfully recruited from a range of dental settings. Participant retention was 73% (n = 58; 95% CI 62-81%) at 6 months. The e-cigarette intervention was well received, with usage rates of 90% (n = 36; 95% CI 77-96%) at quit date. Twenty percent (n = 8; 95% CI 11-35%) of participants in the control group used an e-cigarette at some point during the study (against advice). The majority of the outcome measures were successfully collected, apart from a weekly smoking questionnaire (only 30% of participants achieved ≥ 80% completion). Reductions in expired air carbon monoxide over 6 months of 6 ppm (95% CI 1-10 ppm) and 12 ppm (95% CI 8-16 ppm) were observed in the control and intervention groups, respectively. Rates of abstinence (carbon monoxide-verified continuous abstinence for 6months) for the two groups were 5% (n = 2; 95% CI 1-17%; control group) and 15% (n = 6; 95% CI 7-29%; intervention group).

Conclusions: Data suggest that a definitive trial is feasible and that the intervention may improve smoking quit rates. Insights were gained into how best to conduct the definitive trial and estimates of parameters to inform design were obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number74
Number of pages14
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2019


  • Cessation
  • Dental
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Oral health
  • Periodontitis
  • Smoking
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'A feasibility study with embedded pilot randomised controlled trial and process evaluation of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation in patients with periodontitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this