Mobile phone services help smokers quit

November 13, 2012, Wiley

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

Marijuana use may not aid patients in opioid addiction treatment

December 4, 2017
Many patients who are being treated for opioid addiction in a medication-assisted treatment clinic use marijuana to help manage their pain and mood symptoms.

For opiate addiction, study finds drug-assisted treatment is more effective than detox

November 23, 2017
Say you're a publicly insured Californian with an addiction to heroin, fentanyl or prescription narcotics, and you want to quit.

Study finds medical cannabis is effective at reducing opioid addiction

November 17, 2017
A new study conducted by researchers at The University of New Mexico, involving medical cannabis and prescription opioid use among chronic pain patients, found a distinct connection between having the legal ability to use ...

Insomnia linked to alcohol-use frequency among early adolescents, says new psychology study

November 8, 2017
Insomnia is linked to frequency of alcohol use among early adolescents, according to new Rutgers University–Camden research.

Large declines seen in teen substance abuse, delinquency

October 25, 2017
More than a decade of data indicates teens have become far less likely to abuse alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs, and they also are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, such as fighting and stealing, according ...

Trying to get sober? NIH offers tool to help find good care

October 3, 2017
The phone calls come—from fellow scientists and desperate strangers—with a single question for the alcohol chief at the National Institutes of Health: Where can my loved one find good care to get sober?

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.