A project in collaboration with the Healthier Futures Lab (HealthFuL)

Cigarette smoking remains the number one cause of preventable morbidity and mortality in the U.S.. developing novel, efficacious smoking cessation interventions that are accessible, scalable, and sustainable to smokers, especially among vulnerable populations (e.g., low SES), will make a significant public health impact. One of the most powerful, evidence-based behavioral interventions for smoking cessation is contingency management. Contingency management interventions have recently become more accessible by being delivered remotely over the Internet and via mobile devices, like the RAM App.

Contingency management is premised upon the provision of a desirable outcome (a.k.a. incentive), which has historically been money for ease of use, but could be applied to any desired commodity. Because video games are a rapidly evolving industry, we determined it would be more impactful to develop a method for managing incentives that will not be vulnerable to changes in social trends or advances in technology. We determined that making access to an individual’s own phone contingent upon a target behavior would provide the user with a personalized experience that was not subject to external market changes. In other words, as long as the individual desires access to content on his or her phone, we can leverage that desire to help motivate behavior change.

Using RAM App as a basis, we are developing Re-Connect, a personalized, smartphone-based contingency management intervention that requires individuals to provide objective evidence of smoking abstinence in order to gain access to some of their most highly preferred, but non-essential (e.g., social networking, shopping, games), mobile applications.