Quitting smoking easier for social media users

Smoking is a major public health problem, killing approximately 443,000 people every year in the United States. Quitting smoking can have a profound effect on a person's health, but it is also one of the hardest addictions to kick. A recent paper published in the Journal of Communication found that people who engage in health specific social networking sites found it easier to quit smoking.

Joe Phua, University of Georgia, examined health-based that focus on helping members to quit smoking. He found that as participation on these sites increased, members began to build a sense of community on the sites. Specifically, they started to identify more strongly with other members, receive and give more social support, found common ground from smoking behaviors and built a sense of trust.

As a result of the increased associated with participating on the sites, these members ultimately become more likely, and found it easier, to quit smoking. They also maintain abstinence for a longer period of time, because of their increased sense of self-efficacy to abstain from smoking during tempting situations (e.g. when out drinking, when stressed, when sad, etc.).

Past research has examined the use of social media for . However, these are mainly intervention studies that focused on the various features on the sites to increase engagement. There have been no studies that specifically looked at how various forms of social interconnectedness on these sites can help people to quit smoking. These findings show that on health-based social networking sites, members can build strong social with other people who have the same health issue.

This can help users to achieve their in a shorter amount of time, without having to go through more traditional, offline support groups and services. These offline groups are often much more expensive and require a lot more effort to use, especially for people who live in rural areas and have to travel long distances to attend offline smoking cessation programs.

"This study helps further the notion that social networking sites and other forms of social media can help people to improve their health conditions," said Phua. "These can be used as a standalone way to improve chronic health conditions, or as part of a holistic treatment plan that includes both professional offline help and online social media sites."

More information: "Participating in Health Issue-Specific Social Networking Sties to Quit Smoking: How Does Online Social Interconnectedness Influence Smoking Cessation Self-Efficacy," by Joe Phua. Journal of Communication.

Related Stories

Varenicline helps smokers with depression to quit smoking

Sep 16, 2013

About half of smokers seeking treatment for smoking cessation have a history of depression. Compared with smokers who are not depressed, those who suffer from a major depressive disorder (MDD) have greater difficulty quitting.

Can't sleep? Quit smoking

Sep 20, 2013

As the NHS prepares to launch Stoptober 2013, new research published in Psychology, Health & Medicine has found another reason to quit smoking - giving up smoking improves sleep. Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death ...

Alcohol consumption may be in response to smoking cessation

Feb 13, 2013

(Feb.12, 2013) – New findings by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health may help identify situations in which smokers who are trying to quit are at a higher ...

Recommended for you

Colorado proposes edible pot ban, then retreats

2 hours ago

Colorado health authorities suggested banning many edible forms of marijuana, including brownies, cookies and most candies. Then the officials quickly backtracked after the suggestion went public.

User comments