UA App Designed to Help Women Quit Smoking

Guided imagery is used to help women resist the urge to light up while encouraging them to make healthful food choices and increase physical activity.
April 7, 2015
Judith Gordon
Judith Gordon
The See Me Smoke Free app uses guided imagery to help women quit smoking, eat well and get moving.
The See Me Smoke Free app uses guided imagery to help women quit smoking, eat well and get moving.
The app display includes how many days without smoking, cravings over time and money saved.
The app display includes how many days without smoking, cravings over time and money saved.

See Me Smoke-Free, the first multibehavioral mobile health (mHealth) app designed to help women quit smoking, eat well and get moving, is now available for free at the Google Play Store.

The Android phone app, officially released March 30, uses guided imagery to help women resist the urge to smoke, while encouraging them to make healthful food choices and increase their physical activity. The app can be downloaded at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=edu.arizona.guidedimagery.

See Me Smoke-Free was developed by a multidisciplinary research team headed by Judith S. Gordon, associate professor and associate head for research with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson.

The goal of See Me Smoke-Free is to provide an overall sense of well-being and self-efficacy, Gordon said.

"We want women to recognize that they are strong, they are beautiful, they are powerful and they’re in control of their lives," she said. "And that they can use the app to engage in a healthier lifestyle. That includes being smoke-free."

The app is designed specifically for women, with input from women smokers, because studies have shown that women experience challenges such as weight gain when they quit smoking. That may make quitting more difficult for women than it is for men, Gordon said.

The main component of the app is a guided imagery program, which consists of several audio files. Guided imagery is an enhanced visualization technique that encourages users to imagine themselves smoke-free and capable of dealing with cravings.

In addition to sight imagery, the app prompts women to use all of their senses for a fully immersive experience. For example, users are guided through a farmers’ market, where they imagine seeing, smelling and tasting their favorite fruit or vegetable.

Users are prompted to use the guided imagery files daily. The app also allows users to access additional information and resources on quitting, eating well and being physically active; record achievement of their daily goals; and display how many days they have gone without smoking, the intensity of their cravings over time and how much money they have saved. Users receive daily motivational messages and tips for living a healthy lifestyle, and they get virtual awards for meeting their goals and engaging with the app.

"The reason we developed this as an Android app is twofold," Gordon said. "First, Android currently has the largest market share of smartphone operating systems. Second, we know that people with lower incomes are more likely to use Androids, and they are more likely to smoke."

See Me Smoke-Free was developed as part of a two-phase study. Participants are needed for the second phase of the study, which will evaluate the app. Additional information about the app and the research study is available at the website, www.seemesmokefree.org.

"A multi-behavioral intervention such as ours requires experts from a variety of fields," Gordon noted.

The study team includes Melanie Hingle, assistant professor with the Department of Nutritional Sciences, UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and the Canyon Ranch Center for Prevention and Health Promotion at the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; Thienne Johnson, research associate with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UA College of Engineering, and the Department of Computer Science, UA College of Science; and Peter Giacobbi, associate professor with the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and the School of Public Health at West Virginia University. Jim Cunningham, an epidemiologist with the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine, is the study’s methodologist and statistician.

See Me Smoke-Free is funded by a two-year, $366,400 National Cancer Institute grant.

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