Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have good news for smokers who want to kick their habit. An app developed by Fred Hutch and Seattle startup 2Morrow could up to triple a smoker’s chances of quitting, according to the results of a new study.
The study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, found that 21 percent of participants who used the SmartQuit app were able to stop smoking completely, and 75 percent were able to decrease the amount they smoked. Of those who earned a certificate of completion by meeting certain requirements in the app, 33 percent quit entirely and 88 percent decreased their intake.
For comparison, most online smoking cessation apps have quit rates from 8 to 10 percent.
The app is available for free to all Washington residents, and was developed based on the work of Fred Hutch researcher Dr. Jonathan Bricker, who also led the study into its effectiveness. The study was supported by a $3.1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.
The technology and the approach it leverages could also be used to help those with other health concerns, such as overeating, Bricker told GeekWire in a past interview. Unlike traditional cessation programs such as nicotine gum or patches, which wean a smoker off the drug, SmartQuit uses acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, to focus on a smoker’s willingness to face the difficulties of quitting.
“Practicing acceptance can be a real eye-opener — a lot of people are relieved when they realize their urges are temporary and they don’t have to work so hard fight them,” Bricker said in a press release.
For more information on ACT, check out Bricker’s talk at TEDxRanier.
The importance of a tool that can effectively help smokers quit cannot be overstated — about one in five deaths in the U.S. is smoking related, and a billion people worldwide smoke cigarettes despite the health risks.
Counseling and therapies like ACT can be particularly effective in helping people quit, but many do not have access to these resources.
“We’ve found a successful tool that harnesses technology to extend our reach to people who might never have access to standard counseling,” Bricker said. could be an impactful tool in the fight against cancer. Smoking is also one of the leading causes of cancer, and one of the most highly preventable causes of the disease.
SmartQuit’s success means it could be an impactful tool in the fight against cancer. Smoking and other unhealthy habits are among the leading causes of cancer, and limiting them could drastically reduce the chances of developing the disease.
“Most people don’t think of cancer as a behavioral problem,” Bricker said, “but whether it’s by quitting smoking or losing weight or exercising more, there are some definitive things you can do to reduce your risk and thereby live a longer and higher-quality life.”