Smoking Cessation Smartphone App Use Over Time: Predicting 12-Month Cessation Outcomes in a 2-Arm Randomized Trial


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Background: Little is known about how individuals engage over time with smartphone app interventions and whether this engagement predicts health outcomes. Objective: In the context of a randomized trial comparing 2 smartphone apps for smoking cessation, this study aimed to determine distinct groups of smartphone app log-in trajectories over a 6-month period, their association with smoking cessation outcomes at 12 months, and baseline user characteristics that predict data-driven trajectory group membership. Methods: Functional clustering of 182 consecutive days of smoothed log-in data from both arms of a large (N=2415) randomized trial of 2 smartphone apps for smoking cessation (iCanQuit and QuitGuide) was used to identify distinct trajectory groups. Logistic regression was used to determine the association of group membership with the primary outcome of 30-day point prevalence of smoking abstinence at 12 months. Finally, the baseline characteristics associated with group membership were examined using logistic and multinomial logistic regression. The analyses were conducted separately for each app. Results: For iCanQuit, participants were clustered into 3 groups: "1-week users" (610/1069, 57.06%), "4-week users" (303/1069, 28.34%), and "26-week users" (156/1069, 14.59%). For smoking cessation rates at the 12-month follow-up, compared with 1-week users, 4-week users had 50% higher odds of cessation (30% vs 23%; odds ratio [OR] 1.50, 95% CI 1.05-2.14; P=.03), whereas 26-week users had 397% higher odds (56% vs 23%; OR 4.97, 95% CI 3.31-7.52; P<.001). For QuitGuide, participants were clustered into 2 groups: "1-week users" (695/1064, 65.32%) and "3-week users" (369/1064, 34.68%). The difference in the odds of being abstinent at 12 months for 3-week users versus 1-week users was minimal (23% vs 21%; OR 1.16, 95% CI 0.84-1.62; P=.37). Different baseline characteristics predicted the trajectory group membership for each app. Conclusions: Patterns of 1-, 3-, and 4-week smartphone app use for smoking cessation may be common in how people engage in digital health interventions. There were significantly higher odds of quitting smoking among 4-week users and especially among 26-week users of the iCanQuit app. To improve study outcomes, strategies for detecting users who disengage early from these interventions (1-week users) and proactively offering them a more intensive intervention could be fruitful.
acceptance and commitment therapy, ACT, digital interventions, eHealth, engagement, iCanQuit, QuitGuide, mobile health, mHealth, smartphone apps, trajectories, tobacco, smoking, mobile phone
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