Smartphone-Based Survey and Message Compliance in Adults Initially Unready to Quit Smoking: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Form Res. 2024 Jun 7:8:e56003. doi: 10.2196/56003.


Background: Efficacy of smartphone-based interventions depends on intervention content quality and level of exposure to that content. Smartphone-based survey completion rates tend to decline over time; however, few studies have identified variables that predict this decline over longer-term interventions (eg, 26 weeks).

Objective: This study aims to identify predictors of survey completion and message viewing over time within a 26-week smoking cessation trial.

Methods: This study examined data from a 3-group pilot randomized controlled trial of adults who smoke (N=152) and were not ready to quit smoking within the next 30 days. For 182 days, two intervention groups received smartphone-based morning and evening messages based on current readiness to quit smoking. The control group received 2 daily messages unrelated to smoking. All participants were prompted to complete 26 weekly smartphone-based surveys that assessed smoking behavior, quit attempts, and readiness to quit. Compliance was operationalized as percentages of weekly surveys completed and daily messages viewed. Linear regression and mixed-effects models were used to identify predictors (eg, intervention group, age, and sex) of weekly survey completion and daily message viewing and decline in compliance over time.

Results: The sample (mean age 50, SD 12.5, range 19-75 years; mean years of education 13.3, SD 1.6, range 10-20 years) was 67.8% (n=103) female, 74.3% (n=113) White, 77% (n=117) urban, and 52.6% (n=80) unemployed, and 61.2% (n=93) had mental health diagnoses. On average, participants completed 18.3 (71.8%) out of 25.5 prompted weekly surveys and viewed 207.3 (60.6%) out of 345.1 presented messages (31,503/52,460 total). Age was positively associated with overall weekly survey completion (P=.003) and daily message viewing (P=.02). Mixed-effects models indicated a decline in survey completion from 77% (114/148) in the first week of the intervention to 56% (84/150) in the last week of the intervention (P<.001), which was significantly moderated by age, sex, ethnicity, municipality (ie, rural/urban), and employment status. Similarly, message viewing declined from 72.3% (1533/2120) in the first week of the intervention to 44.6% (868/1946) in the last week of the intervention (P<.001). This decline in message viewing was significantly moderated by age, sex, municipality, employment status, and education.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated the feasibility of a 26-week smartphone-based smoking cessation intervention. Study results identified subgroups that displayed accelerated rates in the decline of survey completion and message viewing. Future research should identify ways to maintain high levels of interaction with mobile health interventions that span long intervention periods, especially among subgroups that have demonstrated declining rates of intervention engagement over time.

Trial registration: NCT03405129;

Keywords: adult smokers; age; efficacy; engagement; intervention engagement; just-in-time adaptive intervention; linear regression; messaging; mobile health; phase-based model; pilot randomized controlled trial; smartphone; smoker; smokers; smoking; smoking cessation; survey; survey compliance; tailored messaging.

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