Social Sites Support Quitting Smokers

Smoking cessation support from health specific social networking sites may help quitters

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Quitting smoking is a challenge for most people. But getting involved with a smoking cessation group online may help support folks as they try to kick the habit.

A recent study surveyed a group of people who were engaging in smoking cessation-specific social networking sites while trying to quit.

The results of the study showed that smokers experienced support, bonding and belief in their ability to quit smoking after engaging with cessation-specific social networking sites.

"Check out smoking cessation groups online."

Joe Phua, PhD, from the University of Georgia, conducted this research on how social networking sites may be able to help people quit smoking.

Previous research has shown that social networks can significantly influence people’s health habits.

According to the study authors, people engage in interpersonal conversations within their social network, which can serve as a platform for learning about health, as well as foster personal development.

For this study, the researchers recruited 252 smokers from six health-specific social networking site groups focused on smoking cessation.

The researchers measured the influence of the social networking sites on people’s smoking habits in several ways:

  • Identifying with a social group
  • Bonding with a social group
  • Social support
  • Creating a space for acceptable/unacceptable behavior
  • Boosting self-esteem and belief in one’s ability to complete a task

Smoking cessation-specific social networking sites used by the study participants included: iVillage, Daily Strength, Inspire, Quit Smoking Support, Why Quit and Well Sphere.

The participants were given surveys on how they engaged in their social networking sites and interacted with other members.

Participants spent an average of 3.9 hours per week on social networking sites and 10.1 hours per week surfing the Internet.

On average, participants posted six messages per week and had 43 friend connections.

The participants reported feeling a sense of social support, bonding, accountability and belief in their ability to quit from engaging with health issue-specific social networking sites.

“Health issue-specific social networking sites are becoming an increasingly viable avenue for people with chronic health problems to manage their conditions, through connecting with similar others in an interactive, easily accessible online environment,” the study authors wrote.

This study was published in September in the Journal of Communication.

No outside funding sources were reported. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Review Date: 
September 24, 2013
Last Updated:
September 26, 2013