Text messaging-based smoking cessation intervention: a narrative review

Addict Behav. 2014 May;39(5):907-17. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.11.024. Epub 2013 Dec 4.


Introduction: Smoking cessation interventions delivered via text messaging on mobile phones may enhance motivations to quit smoking. The goal of this narrative review is to describe the text messaging interventions' theoretical contents, frequency and duration, treatment outcome, and sample characteristics such as age and motivation to quit, to better inform the future development of this mode of intervention.

Methods: Studies were included if text messaging was primarily used to deliver smoking cessation intervention and published in English in a peer-reviewed journal. All articles were coded by two independent raters to determine eligibility and to extract data.

Results: Twenty-two studies described 15 text messaging interventions. About half of the interventions recruited adults (ages 30-40) and the other half targeted young adults (ages 18-29). Fourteen interventions sent text messages during the quit phase, 10 had a preparation phase and eight had a maintenance phase. The number of text messages and the duration of the intervention varied. All used motivational messages grounded in social cognitive behavioral theories, 11 used behavioral change techniques, and 14 used individually tailored messages. Eleven interventions also offered other smoking cessation tools. Three interventions yielded smoking cessation outcomes greater than the control condition.

Conclusions: The proliferation of text messaging in recent years suggests that text messaging interventions may have the potential to improve smoking cessation rates. Detailed summary of the interventions suggests areas for future research and clinical application. More rigorous studies are needed to identify components of the interventions that can enhance their acceptability, feasibility and efficacy.

Keywords: Mobile phones; Review; Smoking cessation intervention; Text messaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Text Messaging*
  • Treatment Outcome