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Text message program helps smokers "stay focused on quitting"

text_to_quit_3A growing body of scientific evidence shows that text-messaging programs are an effective and affordable way to provide motivation and support for smokers to kick their nicotine habit. Now new research shows that one such mobile health program doubles the chances that smokers will quit.

The study involved more than 500 smokers recruited via the web. Researchers randomized the participants to either receive a text-messaging program called Text2Quit or self-help material. The interactive text messages offered advice and allowed individuals to request more help, reset their quit date or play a game to help distract them until a craving subsided. After six months, individuals completed a survey to determine how many in each group had successfully quit smoking. According to a release:

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."

In their conclusion, researchers noted that future studies should look at less-Internet-savvy populations as well as compare Text2Quit with similar programs.

Previously: Craving a cigarette but trying to quit? A supportive text message might help, National Cancer Institute introduces free text message cessation service for teens and Can daily texts help smokers kick their nicotine addiction?
Photo by William Atkins/George Washington University

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