Diffusion of an Evidence-Based Smoking Cessation Intervention Through Facebook: A Randomized Controlled Trial
OBJECTIVES: To examine the diffusion of an evidence-based smoking cessation application (“app”) through Facebook social networks and identify specific intervention components that accelerate diffusion.
METHODS: Between December 2012 and October 2013, we recruited adult US smokers (“seeds”) via Facebook advertising and randomized them to 1 of 12 app variants using a factorial design. App variants targeted components of diffusion: duration of use (t), “contagiousness” (beta), and number of contacts (Z). The primary outcome was the reproductive ratio (R), defined as the number of individuals installing the app (“descendants”) divided by the number of a seed participant’s Facebook friends.
RESULTS: We randomized 9042 smokers. App utilization metrics demonstrated between-variant differences in expected directions. The highest level of diffusion (R = 0.087) occurred when we combined active contagion strategies with strategies to increase duration of use (incidence rate ratio = 9.99; 95% confidence interval = 5.58, 17.91; P < .001). Involving nonsmokers did not affect diffusion. CONCLUSIONS: The maximal R value (0.087) is sufficient to increase the numbers of individuals receiving treatment if applied on a large scale. Online interventions can be designed a priori to spread through social networks.
Cobb NK, Jacobs MA, Wileyto P, Valente T, Graham AL. Diffusion of an Evidence-Based Smoking Cessation Intervention Through Facebook: A Randomized Controlled Trial. American journal of public health. 2016;106(6):1130-1135.