University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Online tobacco websites and online communities-who uses them and do users quit smoking? The quit-primo and national dental practice-based research network Hi-Quit studies

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Dental Public Health and Education | Health Communication | Health Information Technology | Health Services Research | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Translational Medical Research


Online tobacco cessation communities are beneficial but underused. Our study examined whether, among smokers participating in a web-assisted tobacco intervention (, specific characteristics were associated with navigating to, an online cessation community, and with subsequent quit rates. Among smokers (N = 759) registered with, we identified visitors to, examining associations between smoker characteristics and likelihood of visiting. We then tested for associations between visits and 6-month cessation (point prevalence). We also tested for an interaction between use of other online support-seeking ( tobacco cessation coaches), visiting, and 6-month cessation. One quarter (26.0 %; n = 197) of the smokers visited; less than one tenth (7.5 %; n = 57) registered to participate in the online forum. Visitors were more likely to be female (73.0 vs. 62.6 % of non-visitors, P < 0.01) to have visited a cessation website before (33.0 vs. 17.4 %, P < 0.01) and to report quit attempts in the previous year (62.0 vs. 53.0 %, P = 0.03). In analyses of all participants, visiting was not associated with 6-month quit completion. Among participants who communicated with a coach, visiting also lacked a significant association with 6 month quit completion, although a non-significant trend toward quit completion in visitors was noted (OR 2.21, 95 % CI 0.81-3.1). Online cessation communities attract smokers with previous cessation website experience and recent quit attempts. Community visiting was not associated with quit rates in our study, but low use may have limited our power to detect differences. Further research should explore whether an additive effect can be achieved by offering community visitors support via online coaches.


UMCCTS funding, Health services research, Internet, Online behavior change systems, Smoking cessation, Social network, Social support

DOI of Published Version



Transl Behav Med. 2016 Dec;6(4):546-557. DOI: 10.1007/s13142-015-0373-5. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Translational behavioral medicine

PubMed ID