Nav: Home

Online ads help pregnant smokers quit

April 19, 2018

Online ads encouraging pregnant smokers to take up stop-smoking support could be more effective at reaching women than advice delivered in a clinical setting - according to new research involving the University of East Anglia.

A new NIHR-funded study reveals that commercial online advertising about cessation support could engage large numbers of women earlier in their pregnancies, and at a lower cost.

The study, led by the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with UEA and the University of Nottingham, is the first to investigate online uptake of cessation support among pregnant smokers.

Reducing smoking prevalence in pregnancy is a key public health priority in the UK, where it is a leading preventable cause of adverse prenatal outcomes including miscarriage, stillbirth and prematurity. It is also linked with a wide range of infant health problems. Around 11 per cent of UK women smoke throughout pregnancy and rates rise considerably with increasing social deprivation, exacerbating health inequalities.

But most pregnant smokers want to quit. Effective 'distance' interventions, such as text-message support, may be particularly helpful for this group because of their low cost, convenience, anonymity and wide reach potential, with mobile phone ownership high across the socio-economic spectrum.

Researchers explored the uptake of a smoking cessation intervention called MiQuit and looked at what the best strategies would be to maximise its reach and uptake.

MiQuit is a low-cost, NHS-supported, tailored text-messaging intervention specifically developed for pregnant smokers. It was designed by Dr Felix Naughton from UEA's School of Health Sciences. It is fully-automated and user-initiated, so women can start using it without the need for any health professional involvement. There is early evidence of its effectiveness for helping pregnant smokers quit and a definitive trial is now underway.

Dr Joanne Emery, also from UEA's School of Health Sciences, said: "This study shows that online advertising appears to be a valuable means of promoting health interventions to hard-to-reach groups.

"We found that a significant minority of pregnant smokers were willing to initiate an automated text messaging intervention when offered this online. Given the high reach of the internet this could translate into substantial numbers of pregnant smokers supported to quit."

The research team advertised links to a website providing MiQuit information on Google and Facebook. Ads were also placed on the National Childbirth Trust and NHS Choices websites free of charge.

They recorded the number of times adverts were shown and clicked on, the number of MiQuit initiations, the characteristics of those initiating MiQuit, and whether support was discontinued prematurely.

For the commercial adverts, the cost per initiation was calculated and, using quit rates obtained from an earlier study, the cost per additional quitter was estimated.

Key findings:


  • An overall uptake rate of 3.4 per cent was seen among individuals who clicked on any of the four adverts. As it is probable that not all advert clickers were pregnant smokers, the true uptake rate among this group is likely to be higher.

  • Commercial adverts on Google and Facebook cost, on average, £24.73 per MiQuit initiation and an estimated £736 per confirmed quitter. This compares favourably with other interventions deemed very cost-effective for pregnant smokers, such as offering financial incentives (£1,127 per quitter) or identifying pregnant smokers using exhaled carbon monoxide and referring all to specialist NHS cessation support unless they object (£952 per quitter). Free-of-charge adverts on health websites yielded relatively few initiations in this study, though these had fairly low visibility.

  • User engagement and interaction with MiQuit appeared high. Over half of online initiators texted a quit date to the system and approximately two-thirds continued with MiQuit until the end of the 12-week programme.

  • While the Facebook advert generated initiations throughout pregnancy, around 50 per cent of those who initiated MiQuit via Google were within their first five weeks' gestation. Adverts attached to online search engines may therefore be a useful way to reach women when they are first pregnant and looking for support or information about smoking during pregnancy. Currently, the earliest cessation interventions tend to target pregnant smokers at their antenatal booking appointment, at around 8-12 weeks' gestation.
The study also indicated that uptake rates could be increased substantially by making it easier for women to initiate support after clicking on an advert to the MiQuit website. 'Uptake of Tailored Text Message Smoking Cessation Support in Pregnancy (MiQuit) When Advertised on the Internet: Observational Study' is published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) on April 19, 2018.
-end-


University of East Anglia

Related Smoking Articles:

Telomere length unaffected by smoking
A new study has surprised the medical world, finding that smoking does not shorten the length of telomeres -- a marker at the end of our chromosomes that is widely accepted as an indicator of aging.
Want to quit smoking? Partner up
Kicking the habit works best in pairs. That's the main message of a study presented today at EuroPrevent 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
Smoking and mortality in Asia
In this analysis of data from 20 studies conducted in China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India with more than 1 million participants, deaths associated with smoking continued to increase among men in Asia grouped by the years in which they were born.
Predictors of successfully quitting smoking among smokers registered at the quit smoking clinic at a public hospital in northeastern Malaysia
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health, Nur Izzati Mohammad et al. consider how cigarette smoking is one of the risk factors leading to noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular and respiratory system diseases and cancer.
Restaurant and bar smoking bans do reduce smoking, especially among the highly educated
Smoking risk drops significantly in college graduates when they live near areas that have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, according to a new study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
How the UK smoking ban increased wellbeing
Married women with children reported the largest increase in well-being following the smoking bans in the UK in 2006 and 2007 but there was no comparable increase for married men with children.
Smoking study personalizes treatment
A simple blood test is allowing Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) researchers to determine which patients should be prescribed varenicline (Chantix) to stop smoking and which patients could do just as well, and avoid side effects, by using a nicotine patch.
A biophysical smoking gun
While much about Alzheimer's disease remains a mystery, scientists do know that part of the disease's progression involves a normal protein called tau, aggregating to form ropelike inclusions within brain cells that eventually strangle the neurons.
A case where smoking helped
A mutation in the hemoglobin of a young woman in Germany was found to cause her mild anemia.
No safe level of smoking
People who consistently smoked an average of less than one cigarette per day over their lifetime had a 64 percent higher risk of earlier death than people who never smoked.
More Smoking News and Smoking Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.