Computer-based programs provide help for smokers trying to quit

May 25, 2009

Berkeley -- Trying to quit cigarettes but don't know how? A new analysis led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, suggests that Web- and computer-based smoking cessation programs are worth a try, and fortunately during these tough economic times, many of them are free.

Such programs offer a cost-effective alternative to interventions such as telephone hotlines or counseling services, both of which require trained personnel, the researchers said. These programs typically help users evaluate the benefits of quitting tobacco, such as saving money by not buying cigarettes, and suggest specific strategies for how to handle relapses.

"With the rising cost of health care, there is a need to look for less expensive health programs that are effective," said study co-author Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health. "What we found in our meta-analysis was that Web- and computer-based programs, once they're set up and running, are a worthy alternative."

The authors of the study, to be published Monday, May 25, in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, systematically analyzed 22 trials in which smokers enrolled in Web- or computer-based smoking cessation programs were compared with smokers who tried to quit on their own. The trials, which totaled nearly 30,000 participants, 16,000 of whom were randomly assigned to a Web- or computer-based program, spanned 19 years and included three to 12 months' worth of follow-up data.

They found that the percentage of smokers who managed to stay away from tobacco a year after the Web- or computer-based smoking cessation program ended was 9.9 percent, a rate that is about 1.7 times higher than for those who tried to quit on their own.

"Currently, Web- and computer-based smoking cessation programs are not commonly recommended because evidence of their effectiveness has been inconsistent," said the study's lead author, Dr. Seung-Kwon Myung, staff physician at the Smoking Cessation Clinic at the National Cancer Center in South Korea. "But our review of the evidence to date suggests that Web- and computer-based programs have a legitimate place in tobacco dependence treatment options."

Myung, who conducted the research while he was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Center for Family and Community Health, said that computer-based programs won't necessarily supplant existing treatment options, such as phone counseling or medications. But he noted that the Web can be particularly helpful for the uninsured who may not have access to services, or for those who are concerned about the stigma of seeking treatment.

Moskowitz noted that many smokers may prefer the flexibility and privacy offered by Web and computer programs over counseling done face-to-face or over the phone. He added that computer programs can be easily translated into various languages to reach out to a more diverse group of people.
-end-


University of California - Berkeley

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.