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Self-reported quit rates and quit attempts among subscribers of a mobile text messaging-based tobacco cessation programme in India


Introduction In 2015, as part of the WHO and International Telecommunication Union’s ‘Be Healthy Be Mobile’ initiative using mobile technology to combat non-communicable diseases, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in India developed a short text message-based mobile health programme (the ‘mCessation’ programme) to support tobacco users to quit tobacco use.

Objectives To evaluate the effectiveness of the mCessation programme by estimating quit rates and quit attempts among registered subscribers of the programme and to understand subscriber perceptions of the programme.

Methods Subscribers to the mCessation (QuitNow) programme were telephonically interviewed 4–6 months after registration. A total of 12 502 calls were made, and completed responses recorded from 3362 ever tobacco users. A total of 6978 respondents either gave very few responses or refused to participate in the telephonic survey. Never tobacco users (1935) and subscribers to the mDiabetes programme (227) were excluded from the sample.

Results A large proportion of registrants (1935 out of 12 502 respondents) were found to be never users. The quit rate (estimated as those who stated they had not had any tobacco in the past 30 days at 4–6 months after registering with the programme from the total sample (excluding never smokers and mDiabetes registrants)) was 19%. Sixty-six per cent of registered subscribers who were current tobacco users had made quit attempts in the period between registration and survey. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents reported that the programme was helpful/very helpful to quit tobacco.

Conclusion The mCessation programme has successfully helped tobacco users in India to quit tobacco by motivating and supporting registered participants through mobile text messages.

  • mHealth
  • quit rate
  • quit attempt
  • tobacco use
  • mCessation
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