Relative effectiveness of a full versus reduced version of the 'Smoke Free' mobile application for smoking cessation: an exploratory randomised controlled trial

F1000Res. 2018 Sep 21:7:1524. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.16148.2. eCollection 2018.


Background: Smartphone applications (apps) are popular aids for smoking cessation. Smoke Free is an app that delivers behaviour change techniques used in effective face-to-face behavioural support programmes. The aim of this study was to assess whether the full version of Smoke Free is more effective than the reduced version. Methods: This was a two-arm exploratory randomised controlled trial. Smokers who downloaded Smoke Free were randomly offered the full or reduced version; 28,112 smokers aged 18+ years who set a quit date were included. The full version provided updates on benefits of abstinence, progress (days smoke free), virtual 'badges' and daily 'missions' with push notifications aimed at preventing and managing cravings. The reduced version did not include the missions. At baseline the app recorded users': device type (iPhone or Android), age, sex, daily cigarette consumption, time to first cigarette of the day, and educational level. The primary outcome was self-reported complete abstinence from the quit date in a 3-month follow-up questionnaire delivered via the app. Analyses conducted included logistic regressions of outcome on to app version (full versus reduced) with adjustment for baseline variables using both intention-to-treat/missing-equals smoking (MES) and follow-up-only (FUO) analyses. Results: The 3-month follow-up rate was 8.5% (n=1,213) for the intervention and 6.5% (n=901) for the control. A total of 234 participants reported not smoking in the intervention versus 124 in the control, representing 1.6% versus 0.9% in the MES analysis and 19.3% versus 13.8% in the FUO analysis. Adjusted odds ratios were 1.90, 95%CI=1.53-2.37 (p<0.001) and 1.50, 95%CI=1.18-1.91 (p<0.001) in the MES and FUO analyses respectively. Conclusions: Despite very low follow-up rates using in-app follow up, both intention-to-treat/missing equals smoking and follow-up only analyses showed the full version of the Smoke Free app to result in higher self-reported 3-month continuous smoking abstinence rates than the reduced version.

Keywords: RCT; smartphone application; smoke free; smoking cessation.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Smartphone*
  • Smokers
  • Smoking Cessation*