Mobile phone program doubles the chances that smokers will quit, according to new study
More than 11 percent of smokers who used a text- messaging program to help them quit did so and remained smoke free at the end of a six- month study as compared to just 5 percent of controls, according to a new report by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (Milken Institute SPH.)
This image shows a smart phone with a sample Text2Quit message held by lead researcher Lorien Abroms at the George Washington University.
Credit: William Atkins/George Washington University
"Text messages seem to give smokers the constant reminders they need to stay focused on quitting," says Lorien C. Abroms, ScD, MA, an associate professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute SPH and the lead author of the study. "However, additional studies must be done to confirm this result and to look at how these programs work when coupled with other established anti-smoking therapies."
A new Surgeon General's report on smoking concludes that cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans every year. Smokers trying to quit can turn to the tried-and-true methods like phone counseling through a quit line and nicotine replacement therapies, but increasingly the evidence is building for using text messaging on mobile phones.
Text-messaging programs, like Text2Quit, work by sending advice, reminders and tips that help smokers resist the craving for a cigarette and stick to a quit date. More than 75,000 people in the United States have enrolled in the Text2Quit program through quit lines and enrollment is on the rise.
Yet despite the widespread use of anti-smoking apps and texting programs, there had been no long-term studies of such programs in the United States. Most of the existing research on such programs were small in size, lacked a control group, and did not biochemically verify smoking status, Abroms said.
To help address such gaps, Abroms and her colleagues decided to carry out a large, randomized trial of a text-messaging program. They recruited 503 smokers on the internet and randomized them to receive either a text-messaging program called Text2Quit or self-help material aimed at getting smokers to quit.
The text messages in the Text2Quit program are interactive and give smokers advice but they also allow participants to ask for more help or to reset a quit date if they need more time. Smokers who have trouble fighting off an urge can text in and get a tip or a game that might help distract them until the craving goes away, Abroms said.
At the end of six months, the researchers sent out a survey to find out how many people in each group had stopped smoking. They found that people using the text-messaging program had a much higher likelihood of quitting compared to the control group, a finding that suggests that text-messaging programs can provide an important boost for people struggling with a tobacco habit.
However, self-reports of smokers can be misleading. To verify the positive results, the researchers collected a sample of saliva from smokers who reported quitting and tested it to see if it showed any evidence of a nicotine byproduct called cotinine. The quit rates for people with biochemically confirmed abstinence at the six month mark were still two times higher than the control group, Abroms said.
This study adds to other evidence suggesting that stop-smoking text-messaging programs are a promising tool, Abroms says.
Still many questions remain to be answered. This study looked at only people who were already highly motivated to quit and those that were already searching for quit-smoking information on the Internet. Additional studies will have to be done to verify that text-messaging programs do in fact work in less digitally connected populations and in those with lower levels of motivation to quit. In addition, researchers will have to compare this text-messaging program with others now in use such as SmokefreeTXT, which was launched by the National Cancer Institute in 2011.
The study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute, appeared online June 6 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Abroms was the lead author of the study and the lead designer of the Text2Quit program. Text2Quit has been licensed by the George Washington University to the firm Voxiva, Inc., a pioneer in interactive mobile health programs.
About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation's capital. Today, nearly 1,400 students from almost every U.S. state and more than 43 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.
Kathy Fackelmann | Eurek Alert!
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy