Computer-Based Smoking Cessation Programs Work
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.
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
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."
of the study, to be published 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.
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.
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."
conducted the research while he was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's
Center forFamily 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
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.
For more information on University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, visit http://sph.berkeley.edu/