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Evaluating Mobile Applications for Smoking Cessation among Smokers with Schizophrenia

Funding Source

Gary Tucker Junior Investigator Award (Department of Psychiatry, Dartmouth College)

Project Period

7/1/13 - 6/30/14

Principal Investigator

Joelle Ferron, PhD

Other Project Staff

Pam Geiger, Research Assistant


Mary F. Brunette, MD and Lisa A. Marsch, PhD

Project Summary

Background and Problem: In the U.S., about 60% of people with schizophrenia are dependent smokers. Further, the high rates of smoking relates to early morbidity and mortality in this population. Effective treatments for smoking dependence have been tested in efficacy trials but are not available in most mental health centers.

Many people with severe mental illness own and use mobile technology.  Studies show that smokers in the general population can quit with the help of mobile-delivered interventions but many publicly available mobile applications are not informed by tobacco treatment guidelines. Further, mobile applications for smoking cessation are less likely to be usable or comprehendible by people with schizophrenia (who have lower literacy and cognitive dysfunction).

Objectives: To evaluate a random selection of currently available mobile applications for adherence to tobacco treatment guidelines and then to test the usability, usefulness and comprehensibility of the 10 applications most adherent to these guidelines among 30 smokers with schizophrenia.

Methodology: We will randomly select 100 mobile applications (from over 500), to evaluate these applications based on a smoking cessation treatment guidelines index and categorize them based on type (specified by the National Tobacco Cessation Collaborative). We will then select 10 of the highest-ranking applications and test them for usability, usefulness, and comprehensibility among 30 smokers with schizophrenia.

Public Health Relevance

This work will increase understanding of the quality of current mobile applications and some ways people with schizophrenia will use and understand them. This work is the foundation in my plan to develop mobile applications that aim to improve cessation outcomes and ultimately reduce early mortality among people with schizophrenia.