Users more likely to abstain from smoking using Text2Quit than an educational website

By Aditi Pai
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Text2QuitAround 11 percent of smokers who participated in a texting-based smoking cessation intervention program were able to abstain from using cigarettes six months after the start of the program, while only 5 percent of smokers in the control group were able to do so, according to a study of 503 people published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Even though 11 percent were found to be actual quitters, close to 20 percent of those using the Text2Quit intervention program, which was created by Voxiva, self-reported that they remained abstinent. Only 10 percent of those in the control group self-reported that they hadn't smoked. To double check whether participants were still smoking, the researchers requested that participants send in saliva samples for testing.

Users in the control group were given a link to Smokefree.gov, a website created by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) with information about smoking cessation.

For the study, researchers recruited participants over the internet. Many of the participants found a link for the study when searching keywords related to quitting smoking. Advertisements for the study also offered the potential of earning an Amazon gift card for participating. All participants were aged 18 or older, smoked five or more cigarettes a day, had a US mailing addres, had an e-mail address, had a cell phone number with an unlimited texting plan, had an interest in quitting smoking in the next month, and were not pregnant.

Participants completed follow-up surveys one month, three months, and six months after the study began. At the one month mark, 85 percent of the respondents completed the survey, at the three month mark, 82 percent of the respondents completed the survey, and at the six month mark 75 percent completed it.

The Text2Quit program offered participants outgoing messages about quitting smoking as well as help texts if they used allotted keywords to request the help. Participants could request a new "quit date" with the keyword DATE, a tip or trivia game to help them quit smoking with the keyword CRAVE, a summary of their quitting statistics with the keyword STATS, and an adjustment of their statistics if they had smoked since quitting with the keyword SMOKE.

For the study, Text2Quit was offered for 6 months after enrollment, with the first 3 months offering both outgoing messages about quitting smoking and on-demand help through the use of keywords. Participants received five texts on their quit date and around two texts per day in the week after they quit.

The lead author of the study, George Washington University assistant professor Lorien C. Abroms, published a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in November 2013 that found popular smoking cessation smartphone apps in the iTunes App Store and Google Play store still do not include many of the guidelines outlined by the US Public Health Service’s Clinical Practice Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.