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Text messages can help say no to smoking: Study

Text messages can help say no to smoking: Study

Text messaging has been an integral part of day-to-day communications among people of all age groups. With its ubiquitous presence across social and business communication, text messages have moved beyond conventional dialogues. Today, text messaging has rendered its foothold in social campaigns that are crafted to influence a person’s life. In fact, a recent study by the Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine has revealed that smokers were more likely to abstain from smoking after receiving a text messaging intervention.

Published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth and uHealth in May 2016, the study had three broad objectives:

  • To evaluate the efficacy of text messaging interventions on smoking outcomes
  • To determine the robustness of the evidence
  • To identify moderators of intervention efficacy

Lori Scott-Sheldon, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the Miriam Hospital’s Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University, said, “Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable global health problems, and text messaging has the promise to reach a wider audience with minimal costs and fewer resources.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 40 million Americans smoked cigarettes in 2014. Every year, one in five deaths in the United States is caused due to smoking and nearly 16 million Americans live with some kind of a smoking-related disease. Targeted interventions that are innovative and can influence a person to quit smoking are extremely important to curb the growing smoking habits.

SMS can provide information on health adversities related to smoking

Interventions via text messaging, also known as short message service (SMS), can provide information on health adversities related to smoking, by offering reminders and support through short, but influential messages. SMS interventions can blend into an individual’s needs and his natural and social environment, with the right kind of impactful messages. The messages can be as simple as “You can do it!” or “Be strong.”

As part of the study, the researchers reviewed 20 manuscripts from 10 countries with 22 text messaging interventions that were designed to influence individuals to quit smoking. This was the most extensive systematic review till date, involving meta-analysis, in which findings from

independent studies were aggregated to form an exhaustive literature. Highlighting the efficiency of text messaging, Scott-Sheldon said, “The evidence provides unequivocal support for the efficacy of text messaging interventions to reduce smoking behavior, but more research is needed to understand for whom they work, under what conditions, and why.”

Since messaging has a high social penetration level, it can be a public health priority intervention to reduce smoking, said the researchers. People across different groups largely use texts to communicate either for personal or professional purposes. A smoking cessation campaign that can create a sustained impact on the smoker’s health should be made available to the public. Text messaging can be one of the prime methods of campaign visibility among the target audience, they said.

Smoking cessation is possible

Smoking cessation interventions can play an important role in helping a person quit the addiction to nicotine. Treatment programs designed to reduce smoking involve detox programs, medications, therapies, and aftercare plans. Detoxification is the first phase of treatment where a patient needs to abstain from smoking under controlled conditions. He/she might have certain withdrawal symptoms during the process, which are generally well managed by the expert clinicians who supervise the detox process.

If your or your loved one is addicted to smoking, seek medical assistance from detox treatment centers in Colorado. The Colorado Detox Helpline can connect you to the most reliable detox centers in Colorado that are constantly evolving their detoxification techniques in response to patients’ needs. Chat online with our treatment advisors or call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807 to know more about detoxification treatment centers in Colorado.

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