Feasibility of a text-messaging smoking cessation program for soldiers in Israel

Dov Bary-Weisberg, Marina Meltser, Maya Oberman, Avital Pato Benari, Yael Bar-Zeev, Sarit Shalev, Carla J. Berg, Lorien C. Abroms, Hagai Levine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Cigarette smoking is a main cause of preventable morbidity and mortality. Many young adults begin smoking in the military, with smoking rates higher among soldiers than in the general population. Among other health effects, smoking impairs performance among soldiers. Smoking cessation programs in the military are challenging due to the unique settings and low access to smoking cessation resources. Studies have shown that text-messaging smoking cessation programs are feasible and effective, but there is a lack of studies on soldiers. Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of a text-messaging smoking cessation program tailored for soldiers. Methods: We recruited 81 soldiers who smoked, 76.5% of whom were male. Following enrollment, participants filled out a baseline survey and were given a text messaging program for 6 months. Participants could send predetermined keywords and immediately receive a response from a list of messages that were constructed as a response to the specific keyword. Participants filled out a follow-up survey at 1 month. Additionally, we retrieved and analyzed program usage data, including keywords sent and received, for the entire program period. Based on the follow-up survey and the program usage data, we assessed feasibility of the recruitment methods, participants' engagement and satisfaction and technical usability of the program. Results: At 1 month, 20.6% reported that they had not smoked in the past week. A high percentage of the participants were engaged in the program, with 82.5% sending at least one valid keyword. The lowest self-efficacy group had higher chances of leaving the program (50.0%) while for the highest group there were much lower chances (4.8%). Most of the soldiers (96.8%) found the program easy to use and would recommend it to a friend (84.1%). Conclusions: The study demonstrates that a text-messaging smoking cessation program is feasible in a military setting. Further development and evaluation of digital smoking cessation tools tailored for soldiers are warranted.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number715
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Digital health
  • Mhealth
  • Military
  • Smoking cessation
  • Soldiers

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