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Posted on Dec 1, 2012 in Conference | 0 comments

I’ll text you if there’s a problem: How the Canadian Cancer Society used live text chat to help you g adults quit smoking

Trevorvan Mierlo,1,2
1Evolution Health Systems Inc. 2Henley Business School, University of Reading

Journal MTM 1:4S:39, 2012


Background: Smoking rates are higher among young adults, especially in Quebec where 30% of 18-24 year-olds smoke. In 2010-2011, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) Quebec Division launched Phase I of SMAT (Service de Messageiretexte pour Arrêter le Tabac), which utilized proactive and reactive text messaging to promote cessation. Based on the success of Phase I, CCS Quebec launched Phase II in December 2011 adding live expert text chat.

Purpose: To test feasibility and outcomes of a proactive and reactive text messaging smoking cessation service including live text chat support by trained Quit Specialists.
MethodsText and Chat Integrated (TaChI) enabled telephone Quit Specialists to simultaneously coach multiple participants.

Results: Out of 994 participants 51% were male (n=508). 40.5% (n=403) were between 18-24 and 22.1% were full time students. On average, participants smoked 17 cigarettes per day for 12.3 years.

A total of 42,613 algorithm-based proactive messages were sent to participants.

65% (n=651) of participants used the reactive keyword text service, with equal usage by men and women. Keyword users tended to be younger (28 years) than non-keyword users (34 years), with the most popular keywords “distraction”, “envie” (translation: craving), and “stress” sent 825, 791 and 690 times, respectively.
A total of 1,099 text-chats occurred, with 38% (n=374) using the text-chat service at least once. Slightly more women 52% (n=196) than men 48% (n=178) chatted with a Quit Specialist.
Complete self-report cessation data is being collected. To date, 28% of respondents (8% of total participants) indicated via text survey that they had quit smoking.

Conclusions: Interactive features of the SMAT program (reactive messaging and text chat) were especially engaging, particularly among younger demographics. In order to remain relevant and efficient, cessation services must quickly react to the rapid adoption of new technological modalities. Limitations and future directions will be discussed.