Feasibility of a Mobile Group Financial-Incentives Intervention Among Pairs of Smokers With a Prior Social Relationship
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Smoking is associated with a number of chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular disease and various types of cancer. The decision to smoke can be conceptualized as preference for small, immediate rewards (e.g., relief from withdrawal) over larger, delayed rewards (e.g., good health). Contingency management (CM) takes advantage of this preference for immediate outcomes by delivering incentives, usually financial, for making the healthier choice to abstain from smoking. The current study tested the feasibility of harnessing naturally occurring social contingencies associated with smoking cessation to increase the promise of CM in initiating and sustaining long-term abstinence. Pairs of smokers with an existing relationship (i.e., friends, roommates, family, significant others) were recruited to quit together in the context of a smartphone-delivered, group CM intervention. Approximately 50% of interested participants identified a partner who also met criteria to participate, and five pairs (N = 10) completed the study. Using a within-subject design, participants could earn individual financial incentives for submitting breath carbon monoxide (CO) samples twice daily that met targeted goals for abstinence, and they could earn bonus incentives when both members of the pair met their targets together. Nine participants (90%) successfully reduced their mean breath CO during the intervention relative to baseline conditions. Individuals within a pair performed similarly to one another, for better or worse (i.e., both participants abstained, smoked, or missed samples at the same time). The social contingencies of quitting with someone with whom the smoker has an existing relationship may be helpful, but may also introduce unique challenges, particularly with regard to recruitment and treatment retention.
KeywordsSmoking cessation Contingency management Delay discounting Social support Smartphones Financial incentives
The authors would like to thank Moran Dan and Jaime Pierce for their help with recruiting participants, and Jesse Dallery for his help reviewing an earlier version of this manuscript. This research was supported with start-up funds at Rowan University awarded to the corresponding author.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
Research Involving Human Participants
All procedures involving human subjects participation were approved by the Institutional Review Board at the corresponding author’s institution.
All participants completed the informed consent process prior to completing research activities.
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