People who want to quit smoking should be on Twitter.
That’s according to some researchers from UCI and Stanford who conducted an extensive 100 day study in which they followed two separate ‘Tweet2Quit’ groups of 20.
Participants were given a free supply of nicotine patches and were also sent daily, automated messages on Twitter. The messages were designed to encourage social media exchanges between participants — 78% of them tweeted to other participants in the study at least once during the experiment.
Members of the study were encouraged to develop a plan to quit smoking via the Web, and were asked to tweet to the group at least once a day. Auto messages were sent each day at 9 A.M. and 5 P.M. — the amount of tweets in the group distinctly went up during these times.
At the end of the study, 42% of the first group had quit smoking. However, 75% of the second group was able to quit smoking after the researchers improved the timing and frequency of the automated messages.
Cornelia Pechmann, one of the researchers from UCI, felt that Twitter was very useful in getting people to quit:
“The Twitter environment created a sort of party dynamic…That’s especially important for social smokers. In addition, group leaders naturally emerged, facilitating the online conversations. These leaders played a critical role in keeping people engaged.”
Many of the tweets in the study were supportive — 10% identified roadblocks to quitting, 22% showed emotional support, and 24% of the tweets shared personal information of some kind. Participants that had more positive tweets were more likely to stay smoke-free.
Here are some examples of what members tweeted to other members of the group:
- “I’m a mum of 4, just got married a month ago.”
- “Anyone else smoke when they drive alone? I have a 30-55 min commute each way to work, usually smoke 2x b4 arrival. Ideas to fight the urge?”
- “Day 2 for you? Hang in there…it gets easier!!”
- “I’m doing yoga and chewing straws to cope, what is everyone else doing?”
- My goal after quitting in playing in local tennis tournament and hope i make it past first round.
For many smokers, actively engaging with like-minded people on Twitter and other social media feeds might be the first step in kicking the habit for good.
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