Effect of a Mobile Phone Intervention on Quitting Smoking in a Young Adult Population of Smokers: Randomized Controlled Trial Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Digital mobile technology presents a promising medium for reaching young adults with smoking cessation interventions because they are the heaviest users of this technology. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of an evidence-informed smartphone app for smoking cessation, Crush the Crave (CTC), on reducing smoking prevalence among young adult smokers in comparison with an evidence-informed self-help guide, On the Road to Quitting (OnRQ). METHODS: A parallel, double-blind, randomized controlled trial with 2 arms was conducted in Canada to evaluate CTC. In total, 1599 young adult smokers (aged 19 to 29 years) intending to quit smoking in the next 30 days were recruited online and randomized to receive CTC or the control condition OnRQ for a period of 6 months. The primary outcome measure was self-reported continuous abstinence at the 6-month follow-up. RESULTS: Overall follow-up rates were 57.41% (918/1599) and 60.48% (967/1599) at 3 and 6 months, respectively. Moreover, 45.34% (725/1599) of participants completed baseline, 3-, and 6-month follow-up. Intention-to-treat analysis (last observation carried forward) showed that continuous abstinence (N=1599) at 6 months was not significantly different at 7.8% (64/820) for CTC versus 9.2% (72/779) for OnRQ (odds ratio; OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.59-1.18). Similarly, 30-day point prevalence abstinence at 6 months was not significantly different at 14.4% (118/820) and 16.9% (132/779) for CTC and OnRQ, respectively (OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.63-1.08). However, these rates of abstinence were favorable compared with unassisted 30-day quit rates of 11.5% among young adults. Secondary measures of quit attempts and the number of cigarettes smoked per day at 6-month follow-up did not reveal any significant differences between groups. For those who completed the 6-month follow-up, 85.1% (359/422) of young adult smokers downloaded CTC as compared with 81.8% (346/423) of OnRQ, χ21(N=845)=1.6, P=.23. Furthermore, OnRQ participants reported significantly higher levels of overall satisfaction (mean 3.3 [SD 1.1] vs mean 2.6 [SD 1.3]; t644=6.87, P<.001), perceived helpfulness (mean 5.8 [SD 2.4] vs mean 4.3 [SD 2.6], t657=8.0, P<.001), and frequency of use (mean 3.6 [SD 1.2] vs mean 3.2 [SD 1.1], t683=5.7, P<.001) compared with CTC participants. CONCLUSIONS: CTC was feasible for delivering cessation support but was not superior to a self-help guide in helping motivated young adults to quit smoking. CTC will benefit from further formative research to address satisfaction and usage. As smartphone apps may not serve as useful alternatives to printed self-help guides, there is a need to conduct further research to understand how digital mobile technology smoking cessation interventions for smoking cessation can be improved. TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01983150; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01983150 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6VGyc0W0i).


  • Baskerville, Neill Bruce
  • Struik, Laura Louise
  • Guindon, Godefroy Emmanuel
  • Norman, Cameron D
  • Whittaker, Robyn
  • Burns, Catherine
  • Hammond, David
  • Dash, Darly
  • Brown, K Stephen

publication date

  • October 23, 2018