Do Internet Interventions Help Smokers Quit?

The Internet is useful for obtaining help in many areas. Hardly a car buyer takes the leap without doing research online for fair pricing and feature information. Professionals who had no time for a traditional graduate program are finding that online degree programs fit their busy lifestyle and need to beef up a resume.The uses for the Internet seem endless. What about addictions? Can nicotine addictions be battled with the Internet as a tool for quitting?

A recent study looked at the possibility of using Internet interventions to assist smokers in quitting and sustaining a nicotine-free life. Shahab amp; McEwen examined the available Internet programs in 2009 and analyzed whether smokers were able to be free of their addiction with the help of the programs.

Shahab and McEwan wanted to compare the effectiveness of Internet interventions with face-to-face, traditional interventions. During December of 2008, the researchers established a search of online databases for relevant studies of online support for smoking cessation.

The studies were required to be published after 1990, the participants involved in the study were current smokers, and the study had to involve the comparison between an interactive Internet intervention with a minimal, non-interactive, untailored control condition (such as a booklet or email).

The studies were also required to have a one-month follow-up assessing the success of the smoking cessation.
The researchers were able to identify eleven eligible studies for examination. Three of the eleven studies were highlighted because they included a six-month follow-up interview, an effective interval for evaluating smoking cessation.

The three studies that were highlighted included 1,203 participants. The research showed that, compared with the controls, the rates of abstinence at the six-month follow-up period were 17 percent higher for the interactive interventions via the Internet.

The rate of abstinence at the six-month follow-up period for those utilizing an interactive intervention method was almost double that of controls.

There are limitations to this study. The study only utilized the results of three scientific papers to establish the results. Also, factors such as socioeconomic status and the type of Internet access available to the participants may impact the results.

The results of this study indicate that the Internet may be a key tool in assisting smokers who are trying to quit. Those who are interested in quitting smoking and have Internet access may want to make the Internet their first line of attack against their addiction before attempting other methods.