Mobile phone text messages to support people to stop smoking by switching to vaping: Codevelopment, coproduction, and initial testing study

Vassilis Sideropoulos (Lead Author), Eleni Vangeli, Felix Naughton, Sharon Cox, Daniel Frings, Caitlin Notley, Jamie Brown, Catherine Kimber, Lynne Dawkins

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Background: SMS text messages are affordable, scalable, and effective smoking cessation interventions. However, there is little research on SMS text message interventions specifically designed to support people who smoke to quit by switching to vaping.

Objective: Over 3 phases, with vapers and smokers, we codeveloped and coproduced a mobile phone SMS text message program. The coproduction paradigm allowed us to collaborate with researchers and the community to develop a more relevant, acceptable, and equitable SMS text message program.

Methods: In phase 1, we engaged people who vape via Twitter and received 167 responses to our request to write SMS text messages for people who wish to quit smoking by switching to vaping. We screened, adjusted, refined, and themed the messages, resulting in a set of 95 that were mapped against the Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation–Behavior constructs. In phase 2, we evaluated the 95 messages from phase 1 via a web survey where participants (66/202, 32.7% woman) rated up to 20 messages on 7-point Likert scales on 9 constructs: being understandable, clear, believable, helpful, interesting, inoffensive, positive, and enthusiastic and how happy they would be to receive the messages. In phase 3, we implemented the final set of SMS text messages as part of a larger randomized optimization trial, in which 603 participants (mean age 38.33, SD 12.88 years; n=369, 61.2% woman) received SMS text message support and then rated their usefulness and frequency and provided free-text comments at the 12-week follow-up.

Results: For phase 2, means and SDs were calculated for each message across the 9 constructs. Those with means below the neutral anchor of 4 or with unfavorable comments were discussed with vapers and further refined or removed. This resulted in a final set of 78 that were mapped against early, mid-, or late stages of quitting to create an order for the messages. For phase 3, a total of 38.5% (232/603) of the participants provided ratings at the 12-week follow-up. In total, 69.8% (162/232) reported that the SMS text messages had been useful, and a significant association between quit rates and usefulness ratings was found (χ21=9.6; P=.002). A content analysis of free-text comments revealed that the 2 most common positive themes were helpful (13/47, 28%) and encouraging (6/47, 13%) and the 2 most common negative themes were too frequent (9/47, 19%) and annoying (4/47, 9%).

Conclusions: In this paper, we describe the initial coproduction and codevelopment of a set of SMS text messages to help smokers stop smoking by transitioning to vaping. We encourage researchers to use, further develop, and evaluate the set of SMS text messages and adapt it to target populations and relevant contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere49668
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Early online date27 Sep 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • SMS text messages
  • codevelopment
  • coproduction
  • e-cigarette
  • eHealth
  • mobile phone
  • smoking
  • text message
  • vaping

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