Can Facebook Help you to Stop Smoking?

Researchers are increasingly interested in studying the effect that social media has on people and the ways in which it can be used positively.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia examined ‘Crush the Crave’, a research based smoking cessation app developed for young adults that has since been integrated into Facebook. (Struik & Baskerville, 2014)

Crush the Crave is available for Android. Incorporating principles of persuasive technology for behavior change, Crush the Crave offers such features as a customized quit plan, the tracking of cravings and smoking habits, notifications of money saved and health improvements achieved, direct dial-up to telephone-based support, virtual awards that credit performance toward reaching milestones, evidence-informed credible information (eg, nicotine replacement therapy), and the ability to connect with a community of people for social support via Facebook.

399 Crush the Crave Facebook posts were examined by the researchers, of which 121 were original posts, and 278 were responses to these posts.

The study found that while the Crush the Crave Facebook moderators initiated the posts, the supportive nature was maintained through replies where positive reinforcement, clarification and redirection was provided.

This corresponds with previous research that indicated Facebook can be utilised as a host for supportive exchanges once they have been established in such ways as offering information and the sharing of personal information.

Given that social support increases the likelihood of quitting and remaining a non-smoker these findings are encouraging. The authors concluded that:

Crush the Crave Facebook page is a useful tool for providing individuals with opportunities to give and receive support throughout the smoking cessation process, thereby adding a new and innovative dimension to smoking cessation interventions directed toward young men and women.