In 2013, the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, a government organisation, created my QuitBuddy; a free personalised app designed to help users quit smoking (Department of Health | National Tobacco Campaign, 2019). The top-down approach is government funded and was created by a large interdisciplinary team composed of innovators, communication directors, strategists, managers, account managers and producers (My QuitBuddy, 2013). They saw an opportunity to create a support tool that would be with the user 24/7. The app targets rational, emotional and social functionality and has even created a gamification aspect (Campaign Brief, 2012).
Apps including and similar to my QuitBuddy are limited to simple communication; working on text-based programs. However, it offers many advantages which includes goal setting, daily reminders, progress tracking and self-monitoring. Particularly my QuitBuddy features reasons for quitting, recorded messages and photos from loved ones. It is a platform that shares success stories, distraction tips and celebrates milestones (quitnow, 2015). By presenting the risk factors of health and financial costs and benefits, the app succeeds to accommodate to most users as evidence shows younger smokers are concerned with monetary rewards of quitting whilst older populations care for the health factor (Paay, Kjeldskov, Skov, Lichon, & Rasmussen, 2015).
my Quit Buddy, Campaign Brief, 2012
Findings towards the effectiveness of this particular app is limited however US National Institute of Health undertook a systematic review of smartphone applications for smoking cessation. It is understood that applications such as my QuitBuddy has created a health intervention treatment that is more accessible than ever before (Haskins et al., 2017). Previously, face-to-face communication was the ideal way for treatment, but its scalability is not as wide reached as mobile access (Raw & McNeil, 1994). Through text-based support it alleviates problems such as fees, portability, connectivity, scheduling and time issues (Keoleian, Polcin and Galloway, 2015).
Weerakone’s thesis discovered hundreds of apps, in which 82 qualified for review; the few high performing apps were ones like my QuitBuddy who partnered with health or government agencies when critiqued against the Clinical Practice Guidelines (Weerakone, 2016). The most effective apps combined a calendar with a calculator in a colourful format making self-monitoring easy to digest; my QuitBuddy succeeded in this area by using infographics (Weerakone, 2016).
Flow chart of the review process, Weerakone, 2016
In 2013, it was calculated that there were 200,000 downloads on iOS and Android devices which amounts to approximately 7% of all Australian smokers but more importantly; it was recorded 39% of smokers who have used my QuitBuddy managed to remain abstinent after six months (My QuitBuddy, 2013). Therefore, it is evident that this particular design intervention has been successful and fulfilled their project brief intention. It is also important to be aware of all the other applications that are available and are not made to the correct standard to achieve a positive outcome for users and communities.
Department of Health | National Tobacco Campaign 2019, Health.gov.au. viewed 10 January 2019, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/tobacco-educat>.
Haskins, B. L., Lesperance, D., Gibbons, P., & Boudreaux, E. D., 2017, A systematic review of smartphone applications for smoking cessation. Translational behavioural medicine, 7(2), 292-299.
Keoleian, V., Polcin, D. and Galloway, G. 2015, Text Messaging for Addiction: A Review, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol 47, no 2, pp.158-176.
My QuitBuddy aims to help people quit smoking 2012, Campaign Brief Australia. viewed 11 January 2019, <http://www.campaignbrief.com/2012/06/anpha-um-develop-and-launch-my.html>.
My QuitBuddy 2013, DRIVENxDESIGN. viewed 11 January 2019, <https://drivenxdesign.com/MA2013/project.asp?ID=11754>.
Paay, J., Kjeldskov, J., Skov., M.B., Lichon, L., & Rasmussen, S. 2015, Understanding individual differences for tailored smoking cessation apps. Retrieved from http://people.cs.aau.dk/~jeni/jeni_homepage/publications_files/CHI2015.pdf
quitnow – My QuitBuddy 2015, Quitnow.gov.au. viewed 11 January 2019, <http://www.quitnow.gov.au/internet/quitnow/publishing.nsf/Content/quit-buddy>.
Raw, M. and McNeillL, A. 1994, The prevention of tobacco-related disease, Addiction, vol 89, no 11, pp.1505-1509.
Weerakone, S. 2016, Examining the effects of an online intervention promoting isometric exercise in smokers, University of London, vol. 1, p47-56.