Available evidence supports the use of online or other computer-based smoking-cessation programs for helping adults quit smoking, according to a meta-analysis of previously published studies appearing in Archives of Internal Medicine (2009; 169:929–937).
Currently recommended smoking-cessation strategies, the authors note, include individual or group counseling, medications, and telephone quit-line counseling.
The researchers, led by Seung-Kwon Myung, MD, MS, then at the University of California, Berkeley, and now at the National Cancer Center in Goyang, South Korea, identified 22 randomized controlled trials of Web- and computer-based programs published between 1989 and 2008. The trials included a total of 29,549 participants, 16,050 of whom were randomly assigned to a computer-based program and 13,499 to a control group. Ten studies used supplemental interventions—such as counseling, classroom lessons, nicotine-replacement gum or patches, medication, or quitlines—whereas 12 studies used Web- or computer-based programs alone.
When the results of the trials were pooled and analyzed, individuals assigned to use computer- or Web-based programs were about 1.5 times more likely to quit smoking than those assigned to control groups. Abstinence rates were higher among the intervention groups than control groups after six to 10 months (11.7% vs 7%) and 12 months (9.9% vs 5.7%) of follow-up. The effects of these programs were similar to those of counseling interventions, the authors note.
“The stand-alone interventions had a significant effect on smoking cessation as well as on those that had supplemental interventions. However, compared with adults, these programs did not significantly increase the abstinence rate in adolescent populations.
“Our findings imply that there is sufficient evidence to support the use of a Web- or computer-based smoking-cessation program for adult smokers. As global Web users continue to increase, Web-based smoking- cessation programs could become a promising new strategy that is easily accessible for smokers worldwide.”