mHealth Lights Up Efforts to End Smoking

The National Cancer Institute has initiated the process of exploring what role mobile technologies can play in helping individuals kick the smoking habit.

The institute will first prove the supposed efficacy of SmokefreeTXT, which is a popular text message smoking cessation intervention program aimed at smokers under the age of 30.

The SmokefreeTXT program (described by the Federal Register) is a component of a larger series of eHealth/mHealth tobacco cessation intervention programs. SmokefreeTXT has been developed by the National Cancer Institute Tobacco Control Research Branch at the request of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The study seeks to recruit a large sample of young adult smokers ages 18-29 to examine how exposure to the SmokefreeTXT intervention affects participants’ success at quitting smoking.

There will be 3-arms to the study; participants will be enrolled for a maximum of 8 weeks of treatment in the SmokefreeTXT program, with frequency and duration of the treatment varying by study arm. The SmokefreeTXT Study will collect self-reported cessation data using the bidirectional aspect of text-messaging service and a series of web-based surveys. All web-based survey data will be collected and stored by a third-party, Research Triangle Institute International (RTI). Respondents will complete the following 5 web-based surveys for a total of 7,136 burden hours: (1) Pre-treatment baseline survey; (2) one week post quit date questionnaire; (3) end of active cessation treatment questionnaire; (4) 12-week post-treatment questionnaire; (5) 24-weeks post-treatment questionnaire.

The results of several recent studies consistently show that mobile-related technologies can prove critical in efforts to help smokers drop the habit. In some cases, former smokers who used mobile monitoring and motivation techniques were able to consistently stay off of cigarettes for a protracted period.

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