A pilot study testing SMS text delivered scheduled gradual reduction to pregnant smokers

  • Pollak K
  • Lyna P
  • Bilheimer A
 et al. 
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INTRODUCTION: Smoking during pregnancy causes multiple perinatal complications; yet, the smoking rate among pregnant women has remained relatively stagnant. Most interventions to help pregnant smokers quit or reduce their smoking are not easily disseminable. Innovative and disseminable interventions are needed.

METHODS: We recruited 31 pregnant smokers in their second trimester from prenatal clinics. We assessed feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an SMS text-based intervention in a 2-arm design. We compared SMS-delivered support messages to an intervention that provided support messages plus a scheduled gradual reduction (SGR) to help women reduce their smoking more than 3 weeks. We sent women in the SGR arm "alert texts" at times to instruct them to smoke. We asked women not to smoke unless they received an alert text.

RESULTS: Most women (86%) reported reading most or all of the texts. Women in both arms rated the program as helpful (M = 6, SD = 1 vs. M = 5, SD = 2, SGR vs. support only, respectively). Women in the SGR arm had a higher rate of biochemically validated 7-day point prevalence at the end of pregnancy 13.4% versus 7.5%. Of those still smoking, women reduced their smoking substantially with more reduction in the SGR arm (SGR arm: M = 16, SD = 11 vs. support messages only: M = 12, SD = 7).

CONCLUSIONS: We developed an easily disseminable intervention that could possibly promote cessation and reduction among pregnant women with SMS texting ability. Women in this pilot were enthusiastic about the program, particularly those in the SGR arm. This program needs further examination.

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  • Kathryn I. Pollak

  • Pauline Lyna

  • Alicia Bilheimer

  • David Farrell

  • Xiaomei Gao

  • Geeta K. Swamy

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