See me smoke-free: Protocol for a research study to develop and test the feasibility of an mhealth app for women to address smoking, diet, and physical activity

Peter Giacobbi, Melanie Hingle, Thienne Johnson, James K. Cunningham, Julie Armin, Judith S. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: This paper presents the protocol for an ongoing research study to develop and test the feasibility of a multi-behavioral mHealth app. Approximately 27 million women smoke in the US, and more than 180,000 women die of illnesses linked to smoking annually. Women report greater difficulties quitting smoking. Concerns about weight gain, negative body image, and low self-efficacy may be key factors affecting smoking cessation among women. Recent studies suggest that a multi-behavioral approach, including diet and physical activity, may be more effective at helping women quit. Guided imagery has been successfully used to address body image concerns and self-efficacy in our 3 target behaviors exercise, diet and smoking cessation. However, it has not been used simultaneously for smoking, diet, and exercise behavior in a single intervention. While imagery is an effective therapeutic tool for behavior change, the mode of delivery has generally been in person, which limits reach. mHealth apps delivered via smart phones offer a unique channel through which to distribute imagery-based interventions. Objective: The objective of our study is to evaluate the feasibility of an mHealth app for women designed to simultaneously address smoking, diet, and physical activity behaviors. The objectives are supported by three specific aims: (1) develop guided imagery content, user interface, and resources to reduce weight concern, and increase body image and self-efficacy for behavior change among women smokers, (2) program a prototype of the app that contains all the necessary elements of text, graphics, multimedia and interactive features, and (3) evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the app with women smokers. Methods: We created the program content and designed the prototype application for use on the Android platform in collaboration with 9 participants in multiple focus groups and in-depth interviews. We programmed and tested the application s usability with 6 participants in preparation for an open, pre-and posttest trial. Currently, we are testing the feasibility and acceptability of the application, evaluating the relationship of program use to tobacco cessation, dietary behaviors, and physical activity, and assessing consumer satisfaction with approximately 70 women smokers with Android-based smart phones. Results: The study was started January 1, 2014. The app was launched and feasibility testing began in April 1, 2015. Participants were enrolled from April 1-June 30, 2015. During that time, the app was downloaded over 350 times using no paid advertising. Participants were required to use the app "most days" for 30 days or they would be dropped from the study. We enrolled 151 participants. Of those, 78 were dropped or withdrew from the study, leaving 73 participants. We have completed the 30-day assessment, with a 92% response rate. The 90-day assessment is ongoing. During the final phase of the study, we will be conducting data analyses and disseminating study findings via presentations and publications. Feasibility will be demonstrated by successful participant retention and a high level of app use. We will examine individual metrics (eg, duration of use, number of screens viewed, change in usage patterns over time) and engagement with interactive activities (eg, activity tracking). Conclusions: We will aggregate these data into composite exposure scores that combine number of visits and overall duration to calculate correlations between outcome and measures of program exposure and engagement. Finally, we will compare app use between participants and non-participants using Google Analytics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5126
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2016


  • cell phone
  • diet
  • exercise
  • handheld app
  • imagery
  • mhealth
  • smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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