The QuitCoach


The QuitCoach is a tailored program that delivers smoking cesssation advice based on principles of cognitive-behavioural therapy. It also provides tailored advice on the use of pharmacotherapy. It is designed to be used on multiple occasions, guiding you through the process of smoking cessation in the manner of a life coach. The QuitCoach asks questions to find out what you are doing and thinking, and provides the most relevant advice on things you need to do to quit and stay quit. Upon entering the site, you are first presented with a set of questions mostly about your plans to quit, and past experience with quitting, which take about 5-10 minutes to answer depending on your individual situation. On the first visit to the site, there are also several questions about your social and living situation and health. The second, optional set includes questions about the costs and perceived benefits of smoking, self-efficacy and strength of temptations to smoke, taking only 2-4 minutes to answer. The QuitCoach works best if visited regularly. Automated email reminders are sent to let you know when it might be a good time to visit the site again. Upon each return visit, you will be asked more questions, which might be very different to the questions you have previously answered, depending on progress made. Your answers are used to provide new advice that takes into account any changes that you have made. The site can be used without registration, but without registering, you will not benefit from the full range of support that the QuitCoach offers. The tailored advice is supplemented by a range of static resources written specifically for the site.

Service URL:
Agency Responsible:
The Cancer Council Victoria.


Intervention Type:
Psychological – CBT.
Course Length:
Long (more than 5 modules). The user is able to visit the site multiple times over their quit attempt
Support Option:
Automated only.

Target Audience

Primary Category:
Target Audience:


Open: With registration.
Contact Details:

Research evidence

Research Trials:
Research RCTs:
Outcome Summary:

A version of the QuitCoach program where participants answered questions over the phone and were then mailed their advice has been tested in a trial. This trial compared tailored computer-generated advice letters mailed at strategically relevant times (the QuitCoach intervention), to a control condition where participants were sent standardised printed self-help materials. Results showed that smokers allocated to the QuitCoach condition were both more likely to quit and were more likely to stay quit than those in the control condition. The QuitCoach intervention group achieved a 6-month sustained abstinence rate of 20% compared to 12% in the control condition.

A randomised controlled trial has recently been completed comparing a revised version of the Internet-delivered QuitCoach with a program of tailored SMS messages, and an integration of the two. However the control condition was the provision of information about other services and there was nothing to stop controls from utilising these other methods during the trial period. This trial found non-significant increases in the rates of abstinence from smoking after 6 months. Another trial has looked at the effect of structured planning, i.e. planning a quit attempt in advance as opposed to rapid implementation i.e. quitting as soon as possible. The study found that those who planned their quit attempts in advance had significantly better results after 1 week and 6 months. 

Recommended rating, reviewer 1:

There is evidence that the site might work. More conclusive studies are needed.
Recommended rating, reviewer 2:

There is evidence that the site might work. More conclusive studies are needed.

Read more about Beacon's Smiley Rating System.

Research paper citations

Borland, R., Balmford, J. & Hunt, D. (2004). The effectiveness of personally tailored computer generated advice letters for smoking cessation. Addiction, 99(3), 369-377.


Balmford, J., Borland, R., Li, L., & Ferretter, I. (2009). Usage of an Internet smoking cessation resource: the Australian QuitCoach. Drug and Alcohol Review, 28(1), 66-72.


Balmford, J., Borland, R., & Benda, P. (2008). Patterns of use of an automated interactive personalized coaching program for smoking cessation. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 10(5), e54.


Borland, R., Balmford, J., & Benda, P. (2013). Population‐level effects of automated smoking cessation help programs: a randomized controlled trial. Addiction, 108(3), 618-628.


Borland, R., Balmford, J., & Swift, E. (2015). Effects of encouraging rapid implementation and/or structured planning of quit attempts on smoking cessation outcomes: a randomized controlled trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49(5), 732-742.

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Last Updated: July 5th 2018