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NAQC Newsroom: Research

Facebook Apps for Smoking Cessation: a Review of Content and Adherence to Evidence-based Guidelines.

Friday, December 12, 2014  
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
Jacobs MA, Cobb CO, Abroms L, Graham AL. 
Facebook Apps for Smoking Cessation: a Review of Content and Adherence to Evidence-based Guidelines. 
J Med Internet Res. 2014 Sep 9;16(9):e205.
Facebook is the most popular social network site, with over 1 billion users globally. There are millions of apps available within Facebook, many of which address health and health behavior change. Facebook may represent a promising channel to reach smokers with cessation interventions via apps. The purpose of this study was to review the features and functionality of Facebook apps for smoking cessation and to determine the extent to which they adhere to evidence-based guidelines for tobacco dependence treatment. Researchers searched Facebook and three top Internet search engines using smoking cessation keywords to identify relevant Facebook apps. Only nine apps were available on Facebook, and they fell into three broad categories: public pledge to quit, quit-date-based calculator/tracker, or a multicomponent quit smoking program. All apps incorporated interactive, informational, and social features except for two quit-date-based calculator/trackers apps (lacked informational component). All apps allowed app-related posting within Facebook (i.e., on self/other Facebook profile), and four had a within-app "community" feature to enable app users to communicate with each other. Among those apps available, adherence to cessation treatment guidelines was low. Further studies are needed to evaluate effectiveness of cessation apps, regardless of adherence to existing treatment guidelines. Smoking cessation interventions provided via the Facebook platform may be a treatment strategy that can harness existing social support and social networks for quitting.

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