Little is known about the effectiveness of mobile apps in aiding smoking cessation or their validity for automated collection of data on smoking cessation outcomes.
We conducted a preliminary evaluation of SF28 (SF28 is the name of the app, short for SmokeFree28)—an app aimed at helping smokers to be smoke-free for 28 days.
Data on sociodemographic characteristics, smoking history, number of logins, and abstinence at each login were uploaded to a server from SF28 between August 2012 and August 2013. Users were included if they were aged 16 years or over, smoked cigarettes at the time of registration, had set a quit date, and used the app at least once on or after their quit date. Their characteristics were compared with data from a representative sample of smokers trying to stop smoking in England. The percentage of users recording 28 days of abstinence was compared with a value of 15% estimated for unaided quitting. Correlations were assessed between recorded abstinence for 28 days and well-established abstinence predictors.
A total of 1170 users met the inclusion criteria. Compared with smokers trying to quit in England, they had higher consumption, and were younger, more likely to be female, and had a non-manual rather than manual occupation. In total, 18.9% (95% CI 16.7-21.1) were recorded as being abstinent from smoking for 28 days or longer. The mean number of logins was 8.5 (SD 9.0). The proportion recording abstinence for 28 days or longer was higher in users who were older, in a non-manual occupation, and in those using a smoking cessation medication.
The recorded 28-day abstinence rates from the mobile app, SF28, suggest that it may help some smokers to stop smoking. Further evaluation by means of a randomized trial appears to be warranted.