Background We evaluated a novel Twitter-delivered intervention for smoking cessation, Tweet2Quit, which sends daily, automated communications to small, private, self-help groups to encourage high-quality, online, peer-to-peer discussions.
Design A 2-group randomised controlled trial assessed the net benefit of adding a Tweet2Quit support group to a usual care control condition of nicotine patches and a cessation website.
Participants Participants were 160 smokers (4 cohorts of 40/cohort), aged 18–59 years, who intended to quit smoking, used Facebook daily, texted weekly, and had mobile phones with unlimited texting.
Intervention All participants received 56 days of nicotine patches, emails with links to the smokefree.gov cessation website, and instructions to set a quit date within 7 days. Additionally, Tweet2Quit participants were enrolled in 20-person, 100-day Twitter groups, and received daily discussion topics via Twitter, and daily engagement feedback via text.
Measures The primary outcome was sustained abstinence at 7, 30 and 60 days post-quit date.
Results Participants (mean age 35.7 years, 26.3% male, 31.2% college degree, 88.7% Caucasian) averaged 18.0 (SD=8.2) cigarettes per day and 16.8 (SD=9.8) years of smoking. Participants randomised to Tweet2Quit averaged 58.8 tweets/participant and the average tweeting duration was 47.4 days/participant. Tweet2Quit doubled sustained abstinence out to 60 days follow-up (40.0%, 26/65) versus control (20.0%, 14/70), OR=2.67, CI 1.19 to 5.99, p=0.017. Tweeting via phone predicted tweet volume, and tweet volume predicted sustained abstinence (p<0.001). The daily autocommunications caused tweeting spikes accounting for 24.0% of tweets.
Conclusions Tweet2Quit was engaging and doubled sustained abstinence. Its low cost and scalability makes it viable as a global cessation treatment.
Trial registration number NCT01602536.
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