Supportive text messages can help smokers quit

Posted on Monday, July 4th, 2011 in Health

A recent study has found that a person is twice as likely to successfully quit smoking if they receive supportive text messages send directly to their mobile phone.

Government statistics have suggested that approximately two thirds of smokers in the UK would like to give up tobacco. The study assessed 5,800 people who were intending to quit.

Half were sent text messages that simply thanked them for taking part in the study. The other half were sent positive and encouraging texts designed to motivate and encourage the smokers.

The messages were informal in tone and highlighted key dates, such as their ‘quit day’.

The study found that 10% of people who received the supportive messages were successful in quitting tobacco. In contrast, only 4.9% of the group who didn’t receive the supportive messages were able to successfully give up.

The findings suggest that supportive text messages are a potentially useful and low cost motivator and could be included in the services that are offered to help people quit smoking.

Experts believe that this service could also be offered on a global scale.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed that approximately 6 million people around the world die as a result of smoking each year. Furthermore, the deaths mostly occur in low and middle-income countries.
Experts believe that the SMS service could be offered globally and would “provide a useful starting point for implementing behavioural change in resource-poor settings”.

It has also been suggested that a similar approach could also be used to help people modify other types of behaviour, such as addiction.

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