iPhone apps for quitting smoking get the thumbs down

A new study announced February 7 finds that iPhone apps designed to help people quit smoking fall short of the mark.

The study, which appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that the 47 apps reviewed rarely helped users get assistance through counseling, hotlines or anti-smoking medications. About half of the apps supported hypnosis, which researchers claim has questionable effectiveness.

"They were pretty poor," said lead study author Lorien Abroms, a professor at George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. "There wasn't one I thought I could recommend to a smoker."

Even so, apps do hold potential to be a valuable tool to help people stop smoking, Abroms said. Researchers have already shown that text messages provide helpful motivation to people who are trying to quit, and she believes smartphones might be even more useful because they are capable of providing a fuller multimedia experience. "You've got a great tool in your pocket," she adds.

The iPhone apps reviewed by Abroms and colleagues - including both free and paid applications that were available in 2009 - did not make the grade, although they did some of the right things, such as providing personal motivation, tallying how much money you'd save, registering your goals, etc. What they did "terribly," she said, was not recommending or referring the user to a "quit line," a telephone service offering support and guidance, available through many national health agencies.

While your smartphone app may not work miracles, it could give you an added mental boost. Frances Stillman, an associate professor of health, behavior and society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the study findings make sense but that when it comes to quitting smoking, there is no "one size fits all." Her approach? Behavioral therapy, along with anti-smoking medications when necessary could be the best solution.

Ready to take your last few puffs? Here is a good start:
http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/healthyliving/smokingandtobacco/givingup/

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/tobacco/smoking

http://smokefree.gov/
http://smokefree.nhs.uk/

Or watch this video: http://www.videojug.com/interview/the-benefits-of-quitting-smoking-2

 

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