Have you made every effort to quit smoking—read the books, chewed the gum, wore the patch? The answer may have always been right at your fingertips.
The University of Oregon conducted two related studies finding a connection between texting and the urge to smoke—finding that digital communication may be the suppressive determinant needed to successfully kick the habit.
First, researchers took 27 heavy-smoking participants from the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program and mapped the parts of their brain associated with cigarette cravings—specifically, where the smokers succumbed to the urge.
Next, the study used texting as a “user-friendly and low-cost option for ecologically measuring real-time health behaviors.” The researchers sent messages to the smokers eight times a day for the first 21 days to document the frequency and severity of cravings, mood and how often they smoked.
Researchers reevaluated the parts of the brain initially mapped in the first part of the study, finding correlations between activities that lead the brain to alleviate cigarette cravings—and texting seemed to do the trick. By monitoring the process in trying to quit smoking with texting, researchers found that a smoker is not only more likely to stick to the program, but the act of regularly texting helps resist the urge to smoke.
In the study's conclusion, researchers write the correlation between texting and supressing the urge to smoke "validate(s) a new low-cost and user-friendly method for collecting fine-grained health behavior assessments, and emphasize the importance of rapid, real-time measurement of smoking moderators."
Texting as accountability—perhaps this concept will open the doors to other programs? Dieting? Exercise? Rehabilitation? We’ll see.Janice McDuffee has worked in marketing, editing and freelance writing for companies including SheKnows and HBM Inc. after receiving her master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Janice McDuffee