Randomized, controlled pilot trial of a smartphone app for smoking cessation using acceptance and commitment therapy

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Oct 1;143:87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.07.006. Epub 2014 Jul 17.


Background: There is a dual need for (1) innovative theory-based smartphone applications for smoking cessation and (2) controlled trials to evaluate their efficacy. Accordingly, this study tested the feasibility, acceptability, preliminary efficacy, and mechanism of behavioral change of an innovative smartphone-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) application for smoking cessation vs. an application following US Clinical Practice Guidelines.

Method: Adult participants were recruited nationally into the double-blind randomized controlled pilot trial (n=196) that compared smartphone-delivered ACT for smoking cessation application (SmartQuit) with the National Cancer Institute's application for smoking cessation (QuitGuide).

Results: We recruited 196 participants in two months. SmartQuit participants opened their application an average of 37.2 times, as compared to 15.2 times for QuitGuide participants (p<0001). The overall quit rates were 13% in SmartQuit vs. 8% in QuitGuide (OR=2.7; 95% CI=0.8-10.3). Consistent with ACT's theory of change, among those scoring low (below the median) on acceptance of cravings at baseline (n=88), the quit rates were 15% in SmartQuit vs. 8% in QuitGuide (OR=2.9; 95% CI=0.6-20.7).

Conclusions: ACT is feasible to deliver by smartphone application and shows higher engagement and promising quit rates compared to an application that follows US Clinical Practice Guidelines. As results were limited by the pilot design (e.g., small sample), a full-scale efficacy trial is now needed.

Keywords: Acceptance; Mindfulness; Nicotine dependence; Smoking cessation; Telephone; mHealth.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy / methods*
  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive / therapy
  • Cell Phone*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted
  • Treatment Outcome