PReS Study Overview PReS Study Overview

Preventing Return to Smoking Postpartum (PReS Study) – Development of a complex intervention to sustain smoking cessation in postpartum women


PRES University of East Anglia


Research Summary

This study was funded by the Medical Research Council to develop a supportive intervention to help women who have stopped smoking in pregnancy stay stopped following the birth of a baby. 

Approximately a quarter of women in the UK report smoking in the 12 months before pregnancy. Over half of these women manage to quit during pregnancy. However, most women re-start smoking again after their babies are born. This can severely affect the health of the mother, and the baby. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in adults, causing 80% of deaths from lung cancer and bronchitis. Babies exposed to ‘secondhand smoke’ (passive smoking) have higher risks of cot death and suffering from breathing problems and ear infections.

Our team of leading experts in this specific research area conducted this study. As this study is ‘intervention development’, it is the first step in developing and initially testing out an approach to helping women to remain smoke free following pregnancy. Although our expert group have been involved in a programme of research work leading up to this point, there are currently no proven effective approaches to helping women to remain smoke-free after childbirth. We have built upon existing evidence by specifically identifying what approaches might best help women to remain smoke free after their babies are born. We collated and reviewed key findings from scientific studies to identify the best possible approaches and the best timing for support to be provided. We then gathered the views of women, their partners and health professionals in discussion groups to develop and refine elements of an ‘intervention’ to help women. This included discussion of medication, electronic cigarette use, specialist behavioural support, social support and incentives to remain smoke free. We explored ways to deliver the intervention in our discussion groups by finding out whether women preferred online or digital support, or to be supported face-to-face, perhaps combining approaches. Subsequently, we ‘tested out’ components of the intervention by working closely with ten individual women who had quit smoking during pregnancy. Finally, we tested the best timing for the intervention, through combining the evidence and our own research findings to determine when the intervention should be delivered and for how long support should continue.

The outcome of our development work is a defined intervention ready for testing in a larger research trial.  We will use all our professional contacts to ensure our research has an impact on policy and practice. We will also publish our findings in academic journals. 

The PReS study is now complete!

Contact Us

For more information please call the PReS research study team at the University of East Anglia on 01603 597665 or email pres.study@uea.ac.uk