WASHINGTON, DC (June 6, 2014) More than 11 percent of smokers who used a text- messaging program to help them quit did so and remained smoke free at the end of a six- month study as compared to just 5 percent of controls, according to a new report by researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (Milken Institute SPH.)
"Text messages seem to give smokers the constant reminders they need to stay focused on quitting," says Lorien C. Abroms, ScD, MA, an associate professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute SPH and the lead author of the study. "However, additional studies must be done to confirm this result and to look at how these programs work when coupled with other established anti-smoking therapies."
A new Surgeon General's report on smoking concludes that cigarette smoking kills nearly half a million Americans every year. Smokers trying to quit can turn to the tried-and-true methods like phone counseling through a quit line and nicotine replacement therapies, but increasingly the evidence is building for using text messaging on mobile phones. Text-messaging programs, like Text2Quit, work by sending advice, reminders and tips that help smokers resist the craving for a cigarette and stick to a quit date. More than 75,000 people in the United States have enrolled in the Text2Quit program through quit lines and enrollment is on the rise.
Yet despite the widespread use of anti-smoking apps and texting programs, there had been no long-term studies of such programs in the United States. Most of the existing research on such programs were small in size, lacked a control group, and did not biochemically verify smoking status, Abroms said.
To help address such gaps, Abroms and her colleagues decided to carry out a large, randomized trial of a text-messaging program. They recruited 503 smokers on the internet and randomized them to receive either a text-messaging
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George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health