Preliminary Outcomes of a Digital Therapeutic Intervention for Smoking Cessation in Adult Smokers: Randomized Controlled Trial

Background: Tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease worldwide. Digital interventions delivered through smartphones offer a promising alternative to traditional methods, but little is known about their effectiveness.

Objective: Our objective was to test the preliminary effectiveness of Quit Genius, a novel digital therapeutic intervention for smoking cessation.

Methods: A 2-arm, single-blinded, parallel-group randomized controlled trial design was used. Participants were recruited via referrals from primary care practices and social media advertisements in the United Kingdom. A total of 556 adult smokers (aged 18 years or older) smoking at least 5 cigarettes a day for the past year were recruited. Of these, 530 were included for the final analysis. Participants were randomized to one of 2 interventions. Treatment consisted of a digital therapeutic intervention for smoking cessation consisting of a smartphone app delivering cognitive behavioral therapy content, one-to-one coaching, craving tools, and tracking capabilities. The control intervention was very brief advice along the Ask, Advise, Act model. All participants were offered nicotine replacement therapy for 3 months. Participants in a random half of each arm were pseudo randomly assigned a carbon monoxide device for biochemical verification. Outcomes were self-reported via phone or online. The primary outcome was self-reported 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 4 weeks post quit date.

Result's A total of 556 participants were randomized (treatment: n=277; control: n=279). The intention-to-treat analysis included 530 participants (n=265 in each arm; 11 excluded for randomization before trial registration and 15 for protocol violations at baseline visit). By the quit date (an average of 16 days after randomization), 89.1% (236/265) of those in the treatment arm were still actively engaged. At the time of the primary outcome, 74.0% (196/265) of participants were still engaging with the app. At 4 weeks post quit date, 44.5% (118/265) of participants in the treatment arm had not smoked in the preceding 7 days compared with 28.7% (76/265) in the control group (risk ratio 1.55, 95% CI 1.23-1.96; P<.001; intention-to-treat, n=530). Self-reported 7-day abstinence agreed with carbon monoxide measurement (carbon monoxide <10 ppm) in 96% of cases (80/83) where carbon monoxide readings were available. No harmful effects of the intervention were observed.

Conclusions: The Quit Genius digital therapeutic intervention is a superior treatment in achieving smoking cessation 4 weeks post quit date compared with very brief advice.

Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN) 65853476; https://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN65853476

JMIR Ment Health 2020;7(10):e22833

doi:10.2196/22833

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