Text messages double the chances of patients giving up smoking

Smokers that used a text-messaging service to support smoking cessation were twice as likely to give up smoking, according to the findings of a UK pilot trial.

The research, presented last week at the 36th annual conference for the Society of Academic Primary Care in West London, involved 200 participants who were randomised to intervention or control groups and followed up at six months.

Smokers who received advice via a text messaging service where found to be twice as likely to stop smoking in the short term than a control group who did not receive any texts.

Lead researcher Dr Cari Free, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: ‘Mobile phones provide a new channel for individualised smoking cessation advice.

‘It has the advantage of being able to reach people at all hours, unlike traditional counselling sessions.’

If someone is craving a cigarette, then they can send a text and receive advice as well as a distraction, she said.

‘There is also a ‘buddy up’ service whereby smokers can text each other for support.’

Dr Andrew Farmer, from the primary health care department at the University of Oxford, said that it was a nice use of technology, but warned: ‘the problem with technology is that it moves so rapidly, meaning that the text messaging system may have to become more sophisticated over time.’

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