Subgroups Among Smokers in Preparation: A Cluster Analysis Using the I-Change Model

<p><i>Background:</i> Investigating potential sub-stages of change could provide important information that could be used to improve the tailoring of smoking cessation interventions to individual smokers' profiles. Smokers in the preparation stage may be most interesting, as they are most likely to participate in smoking cessation interventions. <i>Objective</i>: To examine whether Dutch adult smokers in the preparation stage of change, i.e. motivated to quit smoking within one month, can be organized into subgroups. <i>Methods</i>: Data from 753 smokers who participated in an effectiveness trial of a web-based, computer-tailored smoking cessation programme were subjected to secondary analysis. Cluster analyses were based on respondents' baseline responses to items on pros and cons of quitting and quitting self-efficacy. Chi-squared tests and ANOVA were used to compare the baseline characteristics of the resulting clusters. Logistic and multinomial regression were used for longitudinal comparisons of clusters with respect to smoking abstinence and stage transition at six-week and six-month follow-ups. <i>Results</i>: Four clusters were identified; Classic, Unprepared, Progressing and Disengaged Preparers. Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses validated these clusters: they differed with respect to the clustering variables, gender, cigarette dependence and educational level. Disengaged Preparers were less likely than Progressing Preparers to report smoking abstinence at six months (OR = 0.28; <i>p</i> < .05). <i>Conclusions</i>: These results suggest that smoking cessation interventions tailored to the preparation stage of change, i.e. the set of cognitions usually present in preparers, are only appropriate for the subgroup we defined as Classic Preparers. The other clusters might need different interventions as they display different cognition sets.</p>