December 4th, 2012 | Add a Comment
In recent news, a review of studies published by Cochrane Collaboration shows that text messages are proving helpful to cigarette smokers trying to kick the habit. The results of this new analysis indicate that, with help from text messages, prospective quitters are doubling their likelihood of success. Supportive messages sent via text serve as reminders to their recipients of why it’s worth quitting.
A total of five studies involving 9,000 people were compiled. Participants began with an online support system to establish their goals and setting target dates. Once they started quitting, they received as many as several text messages a day. Some of the messages were automated, meaning they came from a computer, and contained either motivational messages or quitting advice. In one of the studies, smokers received links to short video clips. If the smoker wanted to, he or she could text back to the sender a word like “crave.” In response, the person would receive tips on how to make it through the cravings. The messages were intended to boost motivation to keep going, even after a relapse.
Overall, researchers concluded that the text messages doubled the chances that someone would successfully quit smoking in six months. The normal success rate of only 4 to 5 percent increases to between 6 to 10 percent with the help of daily supportive text messages.
Certain smokers who are in the process of quitting find that they have difficulty during particular periods of the day. For example, some smokers find it especially difficult around the five o’clock happy hour. The doctors who managed the study said that supportive text messages could be pre-programmed to reach their recipients during this time of the day.
As a result of this study, change is happening. Across the country, private groups and a number of state and local health departments are working to create new, online texting-support systems for smokers who want to kick the habit. If you are considering giving up your smoking habit, please consider enrolling in a texting program. According to the research l presented, it will increase your chances of success two-fold.
I wonder if this concept, which is relatively recent because text messages have only been around for 20 years, can increase the odds of success for someone who is kicking a drug or alcohol habit. I would like to see if additional research could increase success rates for people who are in drug or alcohol recovery.
When considering this study, I feel that it is important to have a human element involved in the delivery of the text messages. If the messages are purely automated, they may seem empty or hollow. I would postulate that the one receiving the messages could blow them off much more easily if they were sent from a machine. Having a real person send the message, on the other hand, creates and element of personal accountability and care. It also leaves an opportunity to respond and communicate, as was done in one of the studies, allowing for participants to seek more help.
- Neighmond, Patti. “Text Messages Help Smokers Kick The Habit.” NPR. NPR, 03 Dec. 2012. Web. 03 Dec. 2012.
Written by Kevin G.
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