Efficacy of an Internet smoking cessation program for college students
Escoffery, Ngoc-Cam Pham
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Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable diseases and death in the United States. It is estimated that 29% of college students had smoked one or more cigarettes in the preceding 30 days. To date, relatively few cessation programs that have been developed for young adults and been evaluated as successful. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of a web-based intervention on the reduction and cessation of cigarette smoking, number of quit attempts, self-efficacy in quitting, and attitudes toward smoking among college students. The study employed a randomized, pretest-posttest experimental design with a 6-months follow-up. Seventy college smokers participated in the study. Participants attended four sessions over two months. The intervention group received a multicomponent, stage-matched program. Key components were interactive quizzes, webbased messages and strategies, social support and personalized assessments. The control group received generic smoking cessation messages. ANCOVAS were run to assess post-intervention differences between the groups on number of cigarettes smoked and quit attempts with the baseline measures as the covariate. Chi-square analyses tested the difference between the groups on quit rate and forward stages of change movement. ANOVAs were used to determine the differences between the groups on self-efficacy and attitudes toward smoking. Results of the statistical tests found no significant statistical differences between the groups on any of the outcome measures. However, participants in the intervention group did report lower number of cigarettes smoked and quit attempts between posttest and 6-month follow-up after adjusting for baseline scores and a greater quit rate at 6-month follow-up. The effects of quit rate and quitters in action persisted to the 6-month follow-up for the intervention group. They also had greater proportion in the action stage than the control group at 6-month follow-up. Within the intervention group, there were significant differences in self-efficacy and attitudes about adverse effects of smoking between the baseline and posttest. The web-based intervention was generally well-received. This study may be a test of the feasibility of a web-based smoking intervention. Although the limited sample size may prohibit drawing conclusions on the efficacy of intervention, web-based interventions may hold promise as a medium for behavior change.