Washington: Support for quitting smoking via text and video messages can offer a low cost solution to kick the butt, according to a new study.
A Cochrane systematic review found that people are more likely to stay away from cigarettes over a period of six months if they receive motivational messages and advice through their mobile phones.
Text messages are already used by health services to send appointment reminders and to encourage people to stick to treatment programmes.
And mobile phones may offer a low cost solution for delivering smoking cessation services.
However, an earlier systematic review by Cochrane researchers in 2009 identified only two trials for mobile phone-based programmes and did not find a long-term improvement in quit rates.
The new review incorporates data from three additional studies and comes to a different conclusion.
Researchers analysed results from five studies in which over 9,000 people trying to quit smoking received either motivational messages or quitting advice up to several times a day or control group.
Some studies incorporated interactive elements, such as polls, and provided extra messages on request to help beat cravings.
In one study, participants were sent links to short video diary clips following a role model`s attempts to quit smoking, with the aim of promoting some of their strategies.
Those in control groups received text messages less frequently, or were given online information or support over the phone.
There was some variation between the study results but the larger, more recent studies showed larger improvements in quit rates after six months.
Overall, the researchers estimated that mobile phone programmes could nearly double the chance of quitting for at least six months from 4-5 per cent in control groups to between 6-10 per cent in intervention groups.
"Mobile phone programmes appear to be a useful option to offer those who want to stop smoking," said lead researcher, Robyn Whittaker of the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland.