Mobile phone services help smokers quit

November 13, 2012

Support for quitting smoking via text and video messages can help smokers kick the habit according to a new Cochrane systematic review. The authors of the review found that people were more likely to stay away from cigarettes over a six month period if they received motivational messages and advice to their mobile phones.

Text messages are already used by health services to send appointment reminders and to encourage people to stick to treatment programmes. Mobile phones may offer a for delivering smoking cessation services. However, an earlier systematic review by Cochrane researchers published in 2009 identified only two trials for mobile phone-based programmes and did not find a long-term improvement in quit rates.

The new review incorporates data from three additional studies and comes to a different conclusion. In total, the researchers analysed results from five studies in which over 9,000 people trying to quit smoking received either motivational messages and quitting advice up to several times a day or control. Some studies incorporated interactive elements, such as polls, and provided extra messages on request to help beat . In one study, participants were sent links to short video diary clips following a 's attempts to quit smoking, with the aim of promoting some of their strategies. Those in control groups received text messages less frequently, or were given online information or support over the phone.

There was some variation between the study results but the larger, more recent studies showed larger improvements in quit rates after six months. Overall, the researchers estimated that mobile phone programmes could nearly double the chance of quitting for at least six months from 4-5% in control groups to between 6-10% in intervention groups.

"Mobile phone programmes appear to be a useful option to offer those who want to stop smoking," said lead researcher, Robyn Whittaker of the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. "The largest trial that we included in our review, which involved 5,800 people in the UK, can be considered definitive. At the very least it shows the efficacy of a mobile phone intervention in a developed country with good tobacco control policy. However, we cannot say that all text messaging interventions will be effective in all contexts."

Currently, no published evidence exists for the cost-effectiveness of services delivered by . However, the authors suggest cost savings are likely.

"If, as it appears from our review, we can help as many people at lower costs than running telephone support lines, then mobile phone-based services must be cost-effective," said Whittaker.

The authors believe further evidence will emerge from another seven long-term trials that are currently underway.

At this stage, none of these trials have considered smartphones, but the authors suggest that research on the potential benefits of smartphone applications is also warranted as the effects may be quite different.

Explore further: Text message support for smokers doubles quit rates

More information: Whittaker R, McRobbie H, Bullen C, Borland R, Rodgers A,Gu, Y. Mobile phone-based interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD006611. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006611.pub3

Related Stories

Text message support for smokers doubles quit rates

June 30, 2011
Mobile phones could hold the key to people giving up smoking after a programme involving sending motivational and supportive text messages to smokers doubled quit rates at six months.

Review confirms value of combined approach to quitting smoking

October 17, 2012
Smokers who try to quit would be more successful if they combined medication or nicotine-replacement therapy with behavioral counseling, finds a new review in The Cochrane Library. Few lifestyle changes deliver as many positive ...

Text messages help HIV patients stick to antiretroviral drug therapy

March 13, 2012
Mobile phones could play a valuable role in helping HIV patients to take their medication every day, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The researchers found that patients were less likely to miss doses if they ...

Age, gender and social advantage affect success in quitting smoking

May 27, 2011
The study, commissioned by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and undertaken by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS), reviewed published studies from between 1990 and 2007 to establish ...

Recommended for you

Medical students need training to prescribe medical marijuana

September 15, 2017
Although 29 states and the District of Columbia allow marijuana use for medical purposes, few medical students are being trained how to prescribe the drug. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis ...

Protein links alcohol abuse and changes in brain's reward center

September 8, 2017
When given access to alcohol, over time mice develop a pattern similar to what we would call "problem drinking" in people, but the brain mechanisms that drive this shift have been unclear. Now a team of UC San Francisco researchers ...

11 minutes of mindfulness training helps drinkers cut back

August 24, 2017
Brief training in mindfulness strategies could help heavy drinkers start to cut back on alcohol consumption, finds a new UCL study.

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

August 15, 2017
While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Report reveals underground US haven for heroin, drug users

August 8, 2017
A safe haven where drug users inject themselves with heroin and other drugs has been quietly operating in the United States for the past three years, a report reveals.

Regular energy drink use linked to later drug use among young adults

August 8, 2017
Could young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks be at risk for future substance use? A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.