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Brinker, Titus Josef, Brieske, Christian Martin, Esser, Stefan, Klode, Joachim, Mons, Ute, Batra, Anil, Ruther, Tobias, Seeger, Werner, Enk, Alexander H., Kalle, Christof von, Berking, Carola, Heppt, Markus V., Gatzka, Martina V., Bernardes-Souza, Breno, Schlenk, Richard F. and Schadendorf, Dirk (2018): A Face-Aging App for Smoking Cessation in a Waiting Room Setting: Pilot Study in an HIV Outpatient Clinic. In: Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol. 20, No. 8, e10976 [PDF, 3MB]


Background: There is strong evidence for the effectiveness of addressing tobacco use in health care settings. However, few smokers receive cessation advice when visiting a hospital. Implementing smoking cessation technology in outpatient waiting rooms could be an effective strategy for change, with the potential to expose almost all patients visiting a health care provider without preluding physician action needed. Objective: The objective of this study was to develop an intervention for smoking cessation that would make use of the time patients spend in a waiting room by passively exposing them to a face-aging, public morphing, tablet-based app, to pilot the intervention in a waiting room of an HIV outpatient clinic, and to measure the perceptions of this intervention among smoking and nonsmoking HIV patients. Methods: We developed a kiosk version of our 3-dimensional face-aging app Smokerface, which shows the user how their face would look with or without cigarette smoking 1 to 15 years in the future. We placed a tablet with the app running on a table in the middle of the waiting room of our HIV outpatient clinic, connected to a large monitor attached to the opposite wall. A researcher noted all the patients who were using the waiting room. If a patient did not initiate app use within 30 seconds of waiting time, the researcher encouraged him or her to do so. Those using the app were asked to complete a questionnaire. Results: During a 19-day period, 464 patients visited the waiting room, of whom 187 (40.3%) tried the app and 179 (38.6%) completed the questionnaire. Of those who completed the questionnaire, 139 of 176 (79.0%) were men and 84 of 179 (46.9%) were smokers. Of the smokers, 55 of 81 (68%) said the intervention motivated them to quit (men: 45, 68%;women: 10, 67%);41 (51%) said that it motivated them to discuss quitting with their doctor (men: 32, 49%;women: 9, 60%);and 72 (91%) perceived the intervention as fun (men: 57, 90%;women: 15, 94%). Of the nonsmokers, 92 (98%) said that it motivated them never to take up smoking (men: 72, 99%;women: 20, 95%). Among all patients, 102 (22.0%) watched another patient try the app without trying it themselves;thus, a total of 289 (62.3%) of the 464 patients were exposed to the intervention (average waiting time 21 minutes). Conclusions: A face-aging app implemented in a waiting room provides a novel opportunity to motivate patients visiting a health care provider to quit smoking, to address quitting at their subsequent appointment and thereby encourage physician-delivered smoking cessation, or not to take up smoking.

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