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Initial Testing of the Pack Pal System for Smokers with Schizophrenia

Funding Source

National Institute on Drug Abuse – Center for Technology and Behavioral Health Pilot Core

Project Period

October 2012 - September 2013

Principal Investigator

Joelle C. Ferron, PhD

Other Project Staff

Mary F. Brunette, MD; Timothy Devitt, PhD; Jennifer Gottlieb, PhD


Susan McGurk, PhD (Boston University); David Gustafson, PhD (University of Wisconsin)

Project Summary

In this pilot, we will complete the development of a prototype of the interactive Pack Pal System: an electronic cigarette container, where cigarettes are stored, which will interactively communicate with a smart phone in order to relay information to the user. The system will be easy to use and helps smokers with schizophrenia identify cues that lead to smoking, and initiate new behaviors to cope with urges to smoke. We will iteratively assess the reliability, usability and likability of the Pack Pal System among a sample of smokers. First, we will complete standard usability testing with the “think-aloud” approach in the office. Then we will observe use of the System with the same sample in their environment in order to validate use and trouble-shoot real world problems as they arise in the field. Our goal is to incorporate this tool into a complete smoking cessation treatment system for people with schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses: This system will work in conjunction with our web-based motivational decision support and cognitive behavioral treatment with a support group for smoking cessation.