A randomized clinical trial evaluating a digital avatar-led smoking cessation program for young adults
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Department of Psychology, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus
Publication date: 2020-10-22
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2020;6(Supplement):A60
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Smoking remains a global concern, especially for young adults. There is a dearth of smoking cessation programs for this population, who seldom seek help or are motivated to quit.

This pilot study assessed the effectiveness of a digital avatar-led Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) smoking cessation program (Flexiquit) for young adult smokers at all levels of motivation to quit.

Smokers with no particular interest in quitting smoking (65.45% reported being in pre-contemplation or contemplation stages of change) were recruited from three universities (105 smoking ≥1 cigarette per day during the past 30 days, 68 females). Those who completed questionnaires online (n=84; mean age 22.44±2.61 years, aged 18–28 years) were randomized to either a six-session avatar-led intervention (Flexiquit; n=49) or a wait-list control (n=35). Primary outcomes included cessation status (7-day point prevalence) and number of cigarettes smoked per day; secondary outcomes were nicotine dependence, intention-to-quit smoking and self-efficacy, assessed at pre- and post-intervention, and only for Flexiquit at 6 months follow-up.

In intention-to-treat analysis more participants (OR=3.10; 95% CI: 0.92–10.41) in the treatment group (28.57%) versus the control group (11.43%) reported quitting smoking; however, the difference was not statistically significant (p=0.067). There were statistically significant decreases in average number of cigarettes, nicotine dependence and increases in self-efficacy, and intention-to-quit smoking compared to controls.
Treatment gains in the Flexiquit group were maintained through the 6-month follow-up.

An avatar-led digitized smoking cessation intervention based on ACT could increase the odds of quitting smoking. Findings suggest that a digitized program designed to engage young adults in smoking cessation may result in quitting smoking and has a high applicability potential especially among the hard-to-reach population of young adults.