In the study, 27 heavy smokers recruited from the American Lung Association's Freedom from Smoking program received text messages requesting they document their ongoing cravings, mood and cigarette use. Participants received eight text messages per day for three weeks. Results showed the regular text messages were at least as effective as other handheld data collection devices, which can be more expensive and harder to use. The authors wrote:
Text messaging may be an ideal delivery mechanism for tailored interventions because it is low-cost, most people already possess the existing hardware, and the messages can be delivered near-instantaneously into real world situations. For example, participants' daily fluctuations in mood and craving could be measured for a week before the cessation attempt, then during cessation tailored messages could be sent automatically at times each day when cravings were known to be high. We believe that the current study demonstrates the utility of text messaging for smoking cessation and other health research and interventions more broadly, and anticipate that future work will capitalize on the unique potential of this growing technology.
Similarly, research by Abby King, PhD, at the Stanford Prevention Research Center has shown that computer calls can motivate even skeptical couch potatoes to go for regular walks and that specially-programmed smartphones can persuade middle-aged and older Americans into increasing their physical activity levels.