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Your favourite social networking site can help you to do one of the most difficult tasks of the time: It can help you to quit smoking. A new study has found that participants in a smoking cessation programme who tweet each other regularly are more successful at kicking the habit.
The research done by scientists at University of California, Irvine and Stanford University found that subjects in smoking cessation programmes had much higher rate of success when exposed to social media messages that encourage them to share feelings and experiences with others.
Cornelia Pechmann, professor of marketing at UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business, and Judith J Prochaska, associate professor of medicine at Stanford, found that overall engagement in two consecutive Tweet2Quit groups was high, with 78% of members tweeting their fellow study subjects at least once during the 100-day study.
The researchers found that average number of tweets per person was 72, and 60% tweeted past the 30-day mark. One of the groups had a smoking cessation rate of 42%. Using lessons gleaned from that trial, researchers tweaked the auto-messaging process, and the other group had a success rate of 75%.
Pechmann said that the results indicate that incorporating social media-delivered auto-messages from trained counsellors was effective in promoting smoking cessation.
He further said, the twice-daily messages encouraged people to tweet their group members, which made them more accountable for quitting.
Moreover, members of the Tweet2Quit’s two closed, 20-person groups communicated online via Twitter for 100 days. Each of the participants received a free supply of nicotine patches, along with daily automated text messages.
They were encouraged to use a web-based guide to develop a cessation plan and were asked to tweet their group at least once a day about their progress.
There were no expert facilitators in the groups; the smokers themselves supported one another.
However, the daily auto-messages encouraged and directed peer-to-peer discussions, and distinct tweeting spikes occurred when the messages were sent, at 9am and 5pm.
Pechmann further said, the Twitter environment created a sort of party dynamic and 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. Several types of tweets related positively to smoking abstinence. The more people shared about setting a quit date, using nicotine patches, countering roadblocks, utilizing self-rewards, believing in themselves and feeling pride, the more likely they were to remain smoke-free.