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Text Messaging Program Helps Smokers Quit

June 6, 2014
by John DeGaspari
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Mobile phone program doubles the chances that smokers will quit, according to new study

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 in Washington, D.C.. 

The researchers carried out a large, randomized trial of a text-messaging program, recruiting 503 smokers on the Internet and randomized them to receive either a text-messaging program called Text2Quit or self-help material aimed at getting smokers to quit. The text messages in the Text2Quit program are interactive and give smokers advice, but they also allow participants to ask for more help or to reset a quit date if they need more time. Smokers who have trouble fighting off an urge can text in and get a tip or a game that might help distract them until the craving goes away.

At the end of six months, the researchers sent out a survey to find out how many people in each group had stopped smoking. They found that people using the text-messaging program had a much higher likelihood of quitting compared to the control group, a finding that suggests that text-messaging programs can provide an important boost for people struggling with a tobacco habit.

“Text messages seem to give smokers the constant reminders they need to stay focused on quitting," according to Lorien C. Abroms, ScD, MA, an associate professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute SPH and the lead author of the study, in a prepared statement. “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.” This study adds to other evidence suggesting that stop-smoking text-messaging programs are a promising tool, Abroms says.

 

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