Satisfaction, usability, affordability and availability: The PPI process of selecting an e-cigarette for inclusion in the cessation of smoking trial in the emergency department (COSTED)
Aims: The COSTED trial aims to ascertain whether the provision of an e-cigarette and referral to Stop Smoking Services (SSS) increases smoking cessation in people attending the Emergency Department. There are no medically licenced vaping products, and consumer products are continually evolving, posing a challenge for the selection of an e-cigarette for use in research.
Methods: 1) Consultation about potential devices with an expert panel including representatives from the independent vaping industry, SSS and academics. 2) Shortlisted devices rated for satisfaction factors (e.g. hit, taste) and usability by a lay panel of smokers and vapers and follow-up interviews conducted to contextualise scores. 3) Internet-based research and communication with e-cigarette companies, scoping price and availability of consumables (necessary for ongoing usage).
Results: The expert panel recommended a short-list of seven devices that were tested by the lay panel. The lay panel found refillable devices complex to set up and these were excluded along with some closed-pod devices which received contradictory feedback on satisfaction. Availability of consumables in bricks-and-mortar shops was highlighted as more important than price by both panels. The closed-pod device selected for inclusion was rated highly for satisfaction and usability and had mid-price range consumables which were widely available.
Conclusion: Systematic evaluation should be undertaken before selecting a specific e-cigarette as a research intervention to ensure appropriateness for the research setting. Our lay panel expressed individualised preferences about devices therefore advice about alternatives and signposting to specialist independent vape shops should be offered alongside the device.