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Efficacy of an SMS-Based Smoking Intervention Using Message Self-Authorship: A Pilot Study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 December 2016

Krista L. DeStasio*
Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Anne P. Hill
Department of Psychology, New York University, New York
Elliot T. Berkman
Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Address for correspondence: Krista L. DeStasio, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403. Email:


Introduction: Text-message-based interventions hold great potential for intervention and are increasingly feasible, given advances in information technology.

Aims: This pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) aims to compare the efficacy of self-versus expert-authored content delivered via text-messaging for smoking cessation.

Methods: Sixty-two participants aged 25–66 attended laboratory sessions pre- and post-30 days of text-messaging intervention. Participants were randomised to one of two experimental conditions – self-authorship (SA) only and SA with implementation intentions (SA+ii) – or active control. Participants composed 30–60 brief motivational cessation messages for use during their cessation attempt. SA+ii participants were further instructed to anticipate obstacles and form simple if-then plans to overcome them. Experimental groups received their self-authored texts during the intervention phase, whereas control participants received expert-authored messages.

Results: Overall, smoking decreased as measured by change in exhaled carbon monoxide (CO), F(1,59) = 4.43, p = 0.04. The SA+ii group showed slightly greater CO reduction (M = 3.63, SD = 5.39) than control (M = 0.03, SD = 5.80; t(40) = 2.08, p = 0.04). SA alone (M = 1.97, SD = 9.30) was not more effective than control.

Conclusions: SA does not appear to increase efficacy. However, this pilot supports prior research, indicating that text-based interventions can increase smoking cessation success and may decrease psychological symptoms of withdrawal. Much research is needed to identify ways to bolster intervention efficacy.

Copyright © The Author(s) 2016 

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