Text messaging helps users quit smoking, study finds

The story is getting a bit clearer about whether text reminders and support can help smokers kick the habit.

FierceMobileHealthcare reported a few months ago about two studies that completely contradicted each other. One said texting reminders at key moments could help smokers break the habit. The other indicated the exact opposite, saying text-based smoking cessation programs were ineffective at best.

Now, a new study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine bolsters the case for text messaging to kick the habit. It conducted a large-scale study of a program called "Text2stop," with 6,000 smokers, providing them multiple motivational text messages a day more than 31 weeks.

The messages were front-loaded at five per day for five weeks, and then tapered down to three per day for the remaining 26 weeks. Some messages contained simple praise for participating, while others were more specific, such as: "Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over."

The results: Participants who received the messages were twice as likely to quit as those in the control group, who received texts only twice per week.

One interesting function: If users found themselves losing the battle against cravings, they could text the word "crave" or "lapse" and would be contacted to a live chat for extra support.

Voxiva, creators of Text4Baby, and who just debuted a new smoking cessation app, Text2Quit, are touting the study as importantsupport for its own product, noting that the two smoking cessation programs are similar.

To learn more:

- read Mobiledia's coverage
- get details from HealthJockey's commentary

Related stories:
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