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Part I: Texting Can Help You Quit Smoking

Jun 10, 2014 12:01 PM EDT

Texting isn't just for communication. Texting apps that send helpful information, tips, and encouragement have been found to significantly improve success and confidence of smokers trying to kick the habit.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, details how researchers assessed the effectiveness of a texting app designed to serve as a therapeutic aid for smokers trying to quit.

The app, called Text2Quit, periodically sends text messages to a smoker's phone to remind them about the benefits of quitting. It even offers tips and advice to any texter who breaks their abstinence from smoking, as long as they text the program with key words like "smoked," "help," or "crave."

However, researchers from the Milken Institute School of Public Health (MIPH) were curious to learn if such a program actually worked to improve the likelihood of a successful quitting experience.

In an experiment involving 503 participants, potential quitters were asked to either use the Text2Quit app or receive standard self-help material. The latter half were included in the study and their progress followed for at least half a year between 2011 and 2013.

According to the study, over 11 percent of participants in the texting group successfully quit smoking for at least six months - as verified by saliva testing. Among the self-help group, only 5 percent could make the same claim.

The developer of the program and author of the study Lorien Abroms said that she believes these results verify the idea that mobile devices can be used as a new platform for therapy and aid.

Mobile phones, she told ABC News, are tools "that people are regularly using, in touch with, living their lives attached to."

"Given how widespread mobile phone use is, it's great we can take advantage of it to help people," she added.

A similar study conducted by the MIPH also assessed the effectiveness of a pregnancy preparedness app called Text4baby. You can read about the results here.

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