If you are one the seven hundred buh-zillion people that have an iPhone, then you know how many applications there are to download. Apart from the normal stuff like music and games, you can download things like Kidney Diets, Zoom to see the Sky kind of stuff, and even an app to do your taxes – right from your phone. So it should come as no surprise that there are now many applications for helping you to quit smoking.
To see how legitimate these apps really are, Lorien Abroms and colleagues at the George Washington University in Washington DC scored how well the 47 quit-smoking apps adhered to the US Public Health Service’s 2008 guidelines for treating tobacco use and dependence. The apps were marked for how well twenty of the guidelines were covered, were given up to three marks per guideline, with a possible total score of sixty.
Cathy Backinger and Erik Augustson at the US National Cancer Institute agree that users and health professionals should not be “overly optimistic” about smartphone apps, because many have not been tested for their scientific benefits. For example, 6 per cent of the apps in this study use “hypnosis” techniques to encourage people to quit smoking. (From your iPhone?)
The scores are in, and on average the apps received a dismal 7.8 out of 60 (I hope these apps were free). The winner was Quit Smoking – Cold Turkey with 30 points; among the losers that received 0 points was Daily Tracker. Not many apps even referred the user to recommended treatments, a quit line, clinic or reaching out to friends and family for support. Like those work, anyway.
You think a smartphone won’t help you quit smoking? A friend of mine who smokes like a train is giving hers up.
Her smartphone, that is. Not her cigarettes.
~ Lori Cline
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