Patients' User Experience of a Blended Face-to-Face and Web-Based Smoking Cessation Treatment: Qualitative Study

JMIR Form Res. 2020 Jun 3;4(6):e14550. doi: 10.2196/14550.


Background: Blended web-based and face-to-face (F2F) treatment is a promising electronic health service because the strengths of one mode of delivery should compensate for the weaknesses of the other.

Objective: The aim of this study was to explore this compensation by examining patients' user experience (UX) in a blended smoking cessation treatment (BSCT) in routine care.

Methods: Data on patients' UX were collected through in-depth interviews (n=10) at an outpatient smoking cessation clinic in the Netherlands. A content analysis of the semantic domains was used to analyze patients' UX. To describe the UX, the Hassenzahl UX model was applied, examining 4 of the 5 key elements of UX from a user's perspective: (1) patients' standards and expectations, (2) apparent character (pragmatic and hedonic attributes), (3) usage situation, and (4) consequences (appeal, emotions, and behavior).

Results: BSCT appeared to be a mostly positively experienced service. Patients had a positive-pragmatic standard and neutral-open expectation toward BSCT at the treatment start. The pragmatic attributes of the F2F sessions were mostly perceived as positive, whereas the pragmatic attributes of the web sessions were perceived as both positive and negative. For the hedonic attributes, there seemed to be a difference between the F2F and web sessions. Specifically, the hedonic attributes of the web sessions were experienced as mostly negative, whereas those of the F2F sessions were experienced as mostly positive. For the usage situation, the physical and social contexts were experienced positively, whereas the task and technical contexts were experienced negatively. Nevertheless, the consequential appeal of BSCT was positive. However, the consequential emotions and behavior varied, ultimately resulting in diverse combinations of consequential appeal, emotions, and behavior (positive, negative, and mixed).

Conclusions: This study provided insights into the UX of a blended treatment, and the results support the expectation that in a blended treatment, the strengths of one mode of delivery may compensate for the weaknesses of the other. However, in this certain setting, this is mainly achieved in only one way: F2F sessions compensated for the weaknesses of the web sessions. As a practical conclusion, this may mean that the web sessions, supported by the strengths of the F2F sessions, offer an interesting approach for further improving the blended treatment. Our theoretical findings reflect the relevance of the aspects of hedonism, such as fun, joy, or happiness in the UX, which were not mentioned in relation to the web sessions and were only scarcely mentioned in relation to the F2F sessions. Future research should further investigate the role of hedonistic aspects in a blended treatment and whether increased enjoyment of a blended treatment could increase treatment adherence and, ultimately, effectiveness.

Keywords: blended treatment; cognitive therapy; patient perspective; smoking; smoking cessation; tobacco; user experience.