Evaluation of two mobile health apps in the context of smoking cessation: qualitative study of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus non-CBT-based digital solutions.

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Title: Evaluation of two mobile health apps in the context of smoking cessation: qualitative study of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus non-CBT-based digital solutions.
Authors: Tudor-Sfetea, C
Rabee, R
Najim, M
Amin, N
Chadha, M
Jain, M
Karia, K
Kothari, V
Patel, T
Suseeharan, M
Ahmed, M
Sherwani, Y
Siddiqui, S
Lin, Y
Eisingerich, AB
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Mobile health (mHealth) apps can offer users numerous benefits, representing a feasible and acceptable means of administering health interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is commonly used in the treatment of mental health conditions, where it has a strong evidence base, suggesting that it represents an effective method to elicit health behavior change. More importantly, CBT has proved to be effective in smoking cessation, in the context of smoking-related costs to the National Health Service (NHS) having been estimated to be as high as £2.6bn in 2015. Although the evidence base for computerized CBT in mental health is strong, there is limited literature on its use in smoking cessation. This, combined with the cost-effectiveness of mHealth interventions, advocates a need for research into the effectiveness of CBT-based smoking cessation apps. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was, first, to explore participants' perceptions of 2 mHealth apps, a CBT-based app, Quit Genius, and a non-CBT-based app, NHS Smokefree, over a variety of themes. Second, the study aimed to investigate the perceptions and health behavior of users of each app with respect to smoking cessation. METHODS: A qualitative short-term longitudinal study was conducted, using a sample of 29 smokers allocated to one of the 2 apps, Quit Genius or Smokefree. Each user underwent 2 one-to-one semistructured interviews, 1 week apart. Thematic analysis was carried out, and important themes were identified. Descriptive statistics regarding participants' perceptions and health behavior in relation to smoking cessation are also provided. RESULTS: The thematic analysis resulted in five higher themes and several subthemes. Participants were generally more positive about Quit Genius's features, as well as about its design and information engagement and quality. Quit Genius users reported increased motivation to quit smoking, as well as greater willingness to continue using their allocated app after 1 week. Moreover, these participants demonstrated preliminary changes in their smoking behavior, although this was in the context of our limited sample, not yet allowing for the finding to be generalizable. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings underscore the use of CBT in the context of mHealth apps as a feasible and potentially effective smoking cessation tool. mHealth apps must be well developed, preferably with an underlying behavioral change mechanism, to promote positive health behavior change. Digital CBT has the potential to become a powerful tool in overcoming current health care challenges. The present results should be replicated in a wider sample using the apps for a longer period so as to allow for generalizability. Further research is also needed to focus on the effect of greater personalization on behavioral change and on understanding the psychological barriers to the adoption of new mHealth solutions.
Issue Date: 18-Apr-2018
Date of Acceptance: 13-Mar-2018
ISSN: 2291-5222
Publisher: JMIR Publications
Journal / Book Title: JMIR mHealth and uHealth
Volume: 6
Issue: 4
Copyright Statement: ©Carina Tudor-Sfetea, Riham Rabee, Muhammad Najim, Nima Amin, Mehak Chadha, Minal Jain, Kishan Karia, Varun Kothari, Tejus Patel, Melanie Suseeharan, Maroof Ahmed, Yusuf Sherwani, Sarim Siddiqui, Yuting Lin, Andreas B Eisingerich. Originally published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth (, 18.04.2018. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mhealth and uhealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Keywords: cognitive behavioral therapy
health behavior change
health policy
mobile health
public health
smoking cessation
Publication Status: Published online
Conference Place: Canada
Appears in Collections:Imperial College Business School

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