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Social Media Antismoking Intervention: Delivery, Tracking, and Engagement Systems on a Smartphone-Accessed Facebook Group

Funding Source

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

Project Period

October 2014 – September 2015

Principal Investigator

Sunny J. Kim, PhD

Other Project Staff

Lisa A. Marsch, PhD; Jesse Dallery, PhD; Jeffrey T. Hancock, PhD; Haiyi Xie, PhD; Benjamin S. Crosier, PhD

Project Summary

Tobacco use is the primary cause of premature death in the U.S., responsible for more than 443,000 preventable deaths per year.  A total of approximately 8.4 billion dollars was spent in 2011 for marketing cigarettes, which was far greater than the $175 million that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the states have invested in tobacco prevention and control programs. Media-based antismoking communication approaches are considered to be the most effective intervention strategy in countering this aggressive cigarette marketing while promoting quitting and preventing cigarette-smoking.

Social media, such as Facebook, provide promising interfaces that can substantially enhance the delivery system of targeted messages with high frequency, reach, and duration – which are three key factors for successful health campaigns. Facebook features, such as Facebook Groups, provide multi-directional, non-linear communication platforms connecting geographically distant audiences, and enhance users’ engagement with shared messages and interactions with other users.

This study is designed to promote effective delivery, tracking, and engagement/interaction systems via a smartphone-accessed Facebook Group in order to facilitate antismoking attitudes and smoking reduction/cessation behavior. We will adopt existing antismoking ads and campaigns, and utilize the smartphone-accessed Facebook Group as a communication platform to deliver antismoking content. This pilot study has the following specific aims. First, we aim to evaluate the feasibility of delivering antismoking content via our smartphone-accessed Facebook Group as well as acceptability/usability of our antismoking intervention. Second, we aim to evaluate the feasibility of fostering engagement and interaction on the smartphone-accessed Facebook Group that can lead to positive intervention outcomes (e.g., antismoking attitudes and smoking reduction).

The project seeks to advance new knowledge about how the technology features afforded by social media can promote antismoking attitudes and behaviors through active engagement with the intervention and via interaction among group users.