Today, researchers at Fred Hutch publicly launched WebQuit.org, a website and research study to test two online smoking-cessation programs to learn which is most effective. Preliminary studies have shown that these programs are 50 to 300 percent more effective than traditional approaches to smoking cessation. WebQuit.org offers participants expert guidance and support to help them quit smoking, including a step-by-step guide, tools to help deal with urges to smoke, and help staying motivated while quitting.
Although the website opened to the public today, the program, led by Dr. Jonathan Bricker, is in its fourth year at Fred Hutch. Dr. Bricker first heard about acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) in 2004. ACT is a general approach to behavioral intervention that encourages people to step back, notice the thoughts and cravings that lead to their destructive behaviors, and accept them. By not acting on urges, they fade away, allowing people to commit to the core reasons they want to change their behavior. Knowing the ACT approach could work for smokers who want to quit, Dr. Bricker set out to test his theory.
Along with his team of researchers in Fred Hutch’s Public Health Sciences Division, Dr. Bricker has been developing the program since 2008, testing it with a phone-delivered program, group therapy sessions, and the WebQuit site, which before today was only open to clinical trial participants. A smartphone app, SmartQuit, is now also in testing. One early participant in Dr. Bricker’s study, who has now gone three-and-a-half years without smoking, called the approach “Zen and the Art of Quitting Smoking.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, and the majority of lung cancer cases — approximately 80 percent — are related to tobacco use. Each year, more Americans die of lung cancer than of breast, colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancers combined. Despite these statistics and numerous public-health campaigns aimed at curbing smoking, 20 percent of men and 15 percent of women smoked cigarettes in 2012, with about 78 percent of these people smoking daily, according to the American Cancer Society.
If you or someone you know is over the age of 18, smokes daily, and would like to quit smoking in the next 30 days, encourage them to visit WebQuit.org to learn more and sign up for this innovative online quit-smoking program.