A mobile app offering distractions and tips to cope with cigarette craving: A qualitative study

Ploderer, Bernd, Smith, Wally, Pearce, Jon, & Borland, Ron (2014) A mobile app offering distractions and tips to cope with cigarette craving: A qualitative study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 2(2), e23-e23.

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Despite considerable effort, most smokers relapse within a few months after quitting due to cigarette craving. The widespread adoption of mobile phones presents new opportunities to provide support during attempts to quit.


To design and pilot a mobile app "DistractMe" to enable quitters to access and share distractions and tips to cope with cigarette cravings.


A qualitative study with 14 smokers who used DistractMe on their mobiles during the first weeks of their quit attempt. Based on interviews, diaries, and log data, we examined how the app supported quitting strategies.


Three distinct techniques of coping when using DistractMe were identified: diversion, avoidance, and displacement. We further identified three forms of engagement with tips for coping: preparation, fortification, and confrontation. Overall, strategies to prevent cravings and their effects (avoidance, displacement, preparation, and fortification) were more common than immediate coping strategies (diversion and confrontation). Tips for coping were more commonly used than distractions to cope with cravings, because they helped to fortify the quit attempt and provided opportunities to connect with other users of the application. However, distractions were important to attract new users and to facilitate content sharing.


Based on the qualitative results, we recommend that mobile phone-based interventions focus on tips shared by peers and frequent content updates. Apps also require testing with larger groups of users to assess whether they can be self-sustaining.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 93578
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: smoking cessation, relapse prevention, social network sites, behaviour change, distraction
DOI: 10.2196/mhealth.3209
ISSN: 2291-5222
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES (080000) > INFORMATION SYSTEMS (080600) > Computer-Human Interaction (080602)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 The Author(s)
Copyright Statement: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
http://mhealth.jmir.org/2014/2/e23/ JMIR mHealth uHealth 2014 | vol. 2 | iss. 2 | e23 | p.13
(page number not for citation purposes)
medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mhealth and uhealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic
information, a link to the original publication on http://mhealth.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must
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Deposited On: 09 Mar 2016 23:26
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2017 06:01

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