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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Young adult smoking cessation and mobile health : a qualitative investigation of the Crush the Crave app Struik, Laura Louise


Smoking remains a major public health issue, particularly among young adults because smoking rates are highest in this demographic. With young adults’ low uptake of the various smoking cessation interventions available, innovative ways to support young adult smoking cessation are needed, and there is much enthusiasm about the use of mobile phones, especially apps, to reach this population. How these tools influence smoking cessation, however, remains largely unknown. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand the design and use of the mobile app, Crush the Crave (CTC), for helping young adults quit smoking. Data included document analysis, fieldwork, and semi-structured interviews with 15 key informants (those involved in the development of CTC) and 31 young adult CTC users. Guided by sociomateriality theory and an affordances approach, as well as a gender-based analysis, data were inductively analyzed to derive thematic findings in relation to the influence of CTC on young adult’s quit smoking efforts. Findings were grouped per the overall strengths and limitations of the app, and the affordances of the app. Affordances were grouped according to each design component of the app: credibility, task support, social support, and dialogue support. Data from key informants revealed the expectations of CTC for helping young adults quit smoking, which were juxtaposed to young adults’ actual experiences with the app. While key informants’ expectations often aligned with young adults’ experiences, there were also some noteworthy differences and additional experiences that the key informants did not anticipate. The credibility, task support, and dialogue support functions lent to largely positive experiences and practices, including trust in the app, encouragement and motivation for quitting, and enhanced awareness of smoking behaviour. The social support component lent to negative user experiences (vulnerability) and practices (low engagement) that rendered this aspect as the weakest component in supporting efforts to quit. There were also some notable gender differences and similarities in relation to the preferences and experiences of young women and men. This study highlights both productive and unproductive approaches to the development of smoking cessation apps, and offers new directions for future improvements and app development.

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