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Social Media-based Treatment: Engaging Sexual and Gender Minority Smokers

Institution: University of California, San Francisco
Investigator(s): Gary Humfleet,
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 29) Grant #: T29IP0461 Award: $499,397
Subject Area: Tobacco-Use Prevention and Cessation
Award Type: High Impact Pilot Award

Initial Award Abstract
This is a resubmission of an application previously scored in the excellent range. Sexual and gender minority (SGM) individuals are more likely to smoke than the general community and are at higher risks for smoking-associated health conditions. However, access to smoking treatment remains limited. Treatments that can be provided through computers, tablets, and mobile phones have the potential benefit of increasing access to behavioral treatments and reducing costs. Digital and social media use is particularly high among SGM groups. Our group developed a web-based intervention (iQuit) for SGM smokers which demonstrated promise. Like other digital interventions, we found low rates of treatment treatment participant and early drop-out. Given the wide reach and integration into SGM user's lives, social media platforms, such as Facebook, may be particularly useful for smoking cessation. One innovative strategy to improve treatment participation and retention is gamification. In gamification, rewarding concepts, such as badges/trophies, points, challenges, and social engagements, are integrated into an intervention to promote participation and retention. Points can be exchanged for monetary benefits. We will explore gamification strategies where potential monetary benefits are donated to the SGM community organizations rather than the individual. We propose pilot work to a) to adapt the iQuit intervention to the Facebook platform, b) to determine the usability and acceptability of the new intervention among SGM smokers, c) determine if the intervention might be better than usual treatment and d) explore the effect of gamification strategies on treatment participation and quit rates. The study will occur in two phases. During the first phase, we will adapt our iQuit protocol to the Facebook platform and conduct testing with 16 SGM smokers to assess the usability and acceptability of the intervention. In the second phase, we will conduct a small pilot study to test the feasibility of the intervention, estimate how many smokers might benefit from the intervention, and explore the effect of gamification strategies on treatment engagement and outcome. 120 smokers will be randomly assigned to the SGM intervention with gamification, SGM intervention without gamification or a control condition. The treatment conditions will be compared on quit and participation rates.