Introduction: Digital smoking cessation aids may benefit pregnant smokers who do not wish to receive face-to-face behavioural support. Healthcare providers (HCPs) who interact with pregnant smokers may have valuable insights into their development and use.
Aims: To explore HCPs’ views of using digital smoking cessation interventions with pregnant women in order to inform the design and delivery of digital smoking cessation interventions.
Methods: Two structured focus groups were conducted with HCPs (n = 16) who provided smoking cessation support for pregnant women in England. Discussions covered participants’ general views about digital smoking cessation interventions, the potential of such interventions for smoking cessation support for pregnant smokers, and recommendations for future intervention development. Transcripts were analysed thematically.
Results: HCPs identified a variety of ways in which digital interventions could benefit pregnant smokers, such as by providing anonymity, offering consistent quality of advice, and being available on demand. The identified limitations of digital smoking cessation interventions included lack of access among those most economically disadvantaged, the need for high levels of self-motivation, and lack of human contact. Addressing pregnant smokers’ negative perceptions of smoking cessation support, providing rewarding experiences, and tailoring the intervention to smokers’ level of confidence were among HCPs’ recommendations.
Conclusions: HCPs indicated that digital interventions offer a range of potential benefits that could make them useful for pregnant smokers. Nonetheless, important limitations and recommendations regarding their design and delivery were identified and these need to be addressed in intervention development.