2013 International Relationship Fund: US-NZ collaboration

Professor Robyn Whittaker
University of Auckland
Funder(s): Health Research Council of New Zealand
International Relationship Fund: US-NZ collaboration
24 months

Lay summary

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of non-communicable disease (NCDs) globally.Therefore, reducing tobacco initiation and increasing quitting should be seen as global health priorities. This is particularly so in the Pacific region, where environmental, demographic and social risk factors for tobacco uptake and sustained use present a significant challenge to health and economic outcomes. A target for the Western Pacific region of a 10% reduction in current tobacco use (on baseline levels) by 2014, and legislation to support reductions in tobacco use is now in place in many Pacific nations. However, there are few programmes to support these commitments in most Pacific nations, despite the urgent need to introduce, accelerate or scale-up initiatives that have political resonance and community impact, and that align with the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the mPOWER framework. In regard to FCTC Article 14, which addresses smoking cessation treatment, there is currently little being done to promote and support smoking cessation in many Pacific nations. Mobile phone technology has the potential to be transformative in this situation.  Mobile phones are increasingly being used as a medium to deliver health messages with the majority of evidence of impact from high income countries. Mobile phone usage is pervasive across the Pacific regardless of income level, location or gender. In Samoa more than 90% of the islands of Upolo and Savai'i have mobile phone network coverage and average spending on text messages and calls is $25-$30 Samoan tala/week. Thus, there are grounds to believe that a 'mHealth' initiative using text messages may support smoking cessation in the Pacific.

Our implementation science research aims to determine the process required to adapt an existing, proven acceptable and effective mHealth cessation intervention used in New Zealand and the United Kingdom to a Pacific setting, and to measure its acceptability

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