Study: Use of texting interventions raises odds of smoking abstinence

Text messaging interventions are effective tools to boost knowledge and provide support services for those seeking to quit smoking, according to literature review research published at the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The study, which analyzed research on texting and smoking cessation, did not specify which messaging content works better than others. However, it determined that the odds of smoking abstinence were 1.37 times higher for those who took advantage of text messaging programs.

"Text messaging interventions for smoking cessation reduced smoking behavior across a broad range of smokers," lead study author Lori Scott-Sheldon, Ph.D., of the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Providence, Rhode Island-based Miriam Hospital, told FierceMobileHealthcare via email. "[But] our research did not reveal any specific intervention feature that improved smoking outcomes," 

The study also notes there was no difference in 'quit' attempts between the text messaging groups and the control groups.

The research is the latest in a long list of studies on using texting to change smoking habits and other unhealthy behaviors. The results of a 12-week clinical trial published earlier this year in JAMA Internal Medicine illustrated that text messaging can help college-age smokers quit the habit and "has the potential to improve the uptake of effective smoking cessation interventions" in the long-term. Another recent study reported text messaging can boost communication and patient outcomes, and additional research revealed how texting supportive reminders regarding lifestyle choices to patients with heart disease can help improve treatment results.

Scott-Sheldon said her team's research shows text interventions can improve health behaviors across a wide range of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, obesity and HIV, and noted there already are some substantive text-based tools available for smokers seeking to quit.

"Patients who are ready to quit smoking should consult with their physicians about the best approach to help them with their quit goals," she said. "Physicians should assist their patients by providing medical advice and support, as well as information on additional resources that can offer support to help smokers quit and stay quit."

For more information:
- read the study