Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Med Internet Res. 2010 Aug 18;12(3):e34. doi: 10.2196/jmir.1340.

Online social and professional support for smokers trying to quit: an exploration of first time posts from 2562 members.

Author information

1
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada. peter_selby@camh.net

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Both intratreatment and extratreatment social support are associated with increased rates of smoking cessation. Internet-based social support groups have the capability of connecting widely dispersed groups of people trying to quit smoking, making social support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at minimal cost. However, to date there has been little research to guide development of this particular feature of Web-assisted tobacco interventions (WATIs).

OBJECTIVE:

Our objectives were to compare the characteristics of smokers who post in an online smoking cessation support group with smokers who do not post, conduct a qualitative analysis of discussion board content, and determine the time it takes for new users to receive feedback from existing members or moderators.

METHODS:

Data were collected from StopSmokingCenter.net version 5.0, a WATI equipped with an online social support network moderated by trained program health educators that was operational from November 6, 2004, to May 15, 2007. Demographic and smoking characteristics for both users and nonusers of the online social support network were analyzed, and qualitative analyses were conducted to explore themes in message content. Posting patterns and their frequency were also analyzed.

RESULTS:

During the study period, 16,764 individuals registered; of these, 70% (11,723) reported being American. The mean age of registrants was 38.9 years and 65% (10,965) were female. The mean number of cigarettes smoked was 20.6 per day. The mean score for the 41% (6849) of users who completed the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence was 5.6. Of all registered members, 15% (2562) made at least one post in the online social support network; 25% of first posts received a response from another member within 12 minutes, 50% within 29 minutes. The most frequent first posts were from recent quitters who were struggling with their quit attempts, and most responses were from members who had quit for a month or more. Differences in demographic and smoking characteristics between members who posted on the support group board at least once and those who did not post were statistically but not clinically significant.

CONCLUSIONS:

Peer responses to new users were rapid, indicating that online social support networks may be particularly beneficial to smokers requiring more immediate assistance with their cessation attempt. This function may be especially advantageous for relapse prevention. Accessing this kind of rapid in-person support from a professional would take an inordinate amount of time and money. Further research regarding the effectiveness of WATIs with online social support networks is required to better understand the contribution of this feature to cessation, for both active users (posters) and passive users ("lurkers") alike.

PMID:
20719739
PMCID:
PMC2956324
DOI:
10.2196/jmir.1340
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for JMIR Publications Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center