WeChat to Quit: Engage Chinese Patients to Stop Smoking

Investigator: Janice Tsoh, PhD
Sponsor: Chinese Community Health Resource Center

Location(s): United States


Smoking prevalence remains extremely higher in Chinese American immigrants mainly among those with limited English speaking skills. Despite availability and accessibility of effective treatments such as nicotine replacement medications, and the Asian Smokers’ Quitline in multiple Asian languages, few smokers fully utilize these resources. WeChat is a popular social media and instant messaging platform used by many Chinese in China and worldwide including the United States. WeChat has shown potential to be effective in health promotion such as increased knowledge in exercise and malaria. However, no research has been conducted in tobacco control focused on Chinese Americans in clinics. The objectives of this pilot research are to 1) develop “WeChat-To-Quit”, a messaging program delivered via WeChat for Chinese smokers to promote quit intention, usage of quit smoking resources, and to stop smoking; and 2) test feasibility of the WeChat messaging program and provide initial data for a future large-scale testing of the efficacy of this program. Method: This pilot research study will be conducted through partnerships in San Francisco County with the Chinese Community Health Resource Center (CCHRC), Chinese Hospital Clinics (CHC) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). CCHRC will lead the study.  An advisory committee will be formed with representatives from all three partners and patients from CHC to develop intervention contents and survey questionnaires. Objective 1 will involve testing the content and delivery format through focus groups. Objective 2 will enroll 120 eligible CHC Chinese patients who smoke and randomly assigned to two groups:  WeChat-To-Quit program or Usual Care which receives no WeChat-To-Quit program. Survey questionnaires will be conducted prior to the start of the WeChat-To-Quit program, at 1- and 3-month after the start of the program.  We plan to evaluate primary outcomes related to recruitment, retention, user engagements and satisfaction.  Secondary outcomes will include knowledge of smoking-related health risks and cessation resources and quit attempts.  We plan to verify smoking abstinence at 3-month through participants’ saliva samples.  Impact: This pilot study will explore the use of WeChat as a possible platform in reaching Chinese smokers to increase their access to effective treatments, motivating users to quit smoking, and ultimately promote smoking cessation.