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JMIR Form Res. 2018 Sep 4;2(2):e11138. doi: 10.2196/11138.

Conversation Within a Facebook Smoking Cessation Intervention Trial For Young Adults (Tobacco Status Project): Qualitative Analysis.

Author information

Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, United States.
Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States.
Weill Institute for Neurosciences, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States.
Contributed equally



Smoking cessation interventions delivered through social media have the potential to engage young people in behavior change.


The aim of this study was to describe participant-posted messages in a Facebook smoking cessation intervention for young adults to discern support for behavior change.


We qualitatively analyzed data from the treatment arm of a randomized trial testing the efficacy of the Tobacco Status Project Facebook intervention. Young adults (N=138) aged 18-25 years (female: 81/138, 58.7%; white: 101/138, 73.2%; mean age 21 years) were recruited using Facebook and placed into one of the 15 secret Facebook groups based on readiness-to-quit smoking. Messages posted to groups for 90 consecutive days were tailored to readiness-to-quit: Not Ready (46/138, 33.3%), Thinking (66/138, 47.8%), and Getting Ready (26/138, 18.8%). Groups were randomized to receive up to US $90 for posting or no incentive. Two independent coders conducted open coding of user posts. We considered content by readiness-to-quit group and incentive condition.


There were 4 dominant themes across all groups: coping skills, friends and family, motivation to quit, and benefits of quitting. The dominant themes in Not Ready groups were friends and family (incentive) and motivation to quit (no incentive), whereas coping skills was the dominant theme in Thinking and Getting Ready groups. The expression of themes varied by readiness-to-quit group but not by incentive condition.


Intervention messages tailored to readiness-to-quit appear useful in eliciting the desired responses from young adult smokers, with limited influence by monetary incentive.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT02207036; (Archived by WebCite at


Facebook; intervention; qualitative analysis; smoking cessation; social media; young adults

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