Real-World Utilization and Outcomes of the Veterans Health Administration's Smoking Cessation Text Message Program.
INTRODUCTION: Smoking cessation mobile health (mHealth) programs are effective and have been recommended for integration into health care services but have not been evaluated in real-world health care settings. The Veterans Health Administration, a safety net health care provider, provides health care for 9 million US military veterans. Veterans Health Administration implemented the SmokefreeVET text message program in 2013. METHODS: A retrospective evaluation of 6153 SmokefreeVET subscribers was conducted. The primary outcome was 30-day self-reported abstinence at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included percentage of opt outs, program completers, and 30-day self-reported abstinence at 3 months. RESULTS: SmokefreeVET subscribers were on average 47.5 years old and 71.4% male. Smoking cessation medication use was reported by 11.5% of subscribers at the start of their quit attempt and subscribers enrolled in the program for an average of 29 days. Subscribers who were younger, female, and heavier smokers were more likely to opt out of the six-week program early. The abstinence rate for the primary outcome, self-reported 30-day abstinence at 6 months among all subscribers was 3.7%. CONCLUSIONS: SmokefreeVET enrolled a younger and more female population of subscribers than other studies of veterans interested in tobacco treatment. The mHealth program was generally acceptable to veterans, yet strategies to increase retention may improve completion rates and outcomes. In this real-world setting, nearly half of the mHealth program subscribers combined use of the text program with smoking cessation medication. Further study of the optimal combination of mHealth with smoking cessation treatments is needed. IMPLICATIONS: mHealth smoking cessation programs can be effectively implemented within real-world health care settings, even in those serving disadvantaged populations. Further research to improve mHealth program efficacy and integration into clinical settings will increase the population-level impact of these effective smoking cessation programs.
Christofferson, DE; Dennis, PA; Hertzberg, JS; Beckham, JC; Knoeppel, J; Hamlett-Berry, K
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