Sheng Zhi Zhao

Ms. Sheng Zhi Zhao is a Ph.D. student at the School of Nursing of the University of Hong Kong. She received her nursing degree and M.P.H. from the Peking Union Medical College and the University of Hong Kong, respectively. She has started her Ph.D. study since 2017.

Ms. Zhao is an investigator of smoking cessation randomized controlled trial using chat-based mHealth support for quitting among community smokers in Hong Kong. She was interested in health promotion and mobile phone health research and experienced in the smoking cessation for community and hospitalized smokers.

She also conducted population-based cross-sectional studies on the emerging infectious disease (COVID-19) and mental health responses. She has published papers for the research fields.

Ms. Zhao intends to work on using information communication technologies for changing addictive behaviors (e.g. delivering smoking cessation intervention remotely through mobile phone-based model).

Personalization in smoking cessation: qualitative study on experiences of the community smokers in a randomized controlled trial using mobile instant messaging

To explore the experiences of smokers receiving the instant messaging (IM) intervention within a randomized controlled trial that addressed the non-responders (remained smoking) for additional cessation support.
Semi-structured individual interviews were conducted on purposively selected (with varied sex and age) smokers who joined a smoking cessation trial and were randomly allocated to received one of the three treatments for three months: (a) personalized instant messaging (PIM) adapted with additional cessation support (e.g., nicotine replacement therapy sampling), (b) PIM alone, or (c) unidirectional regular IM alone. Main interview objectives included: (1) experiences of using the IM support and (2) perception of personalized smoking cessation support. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic framework strategy.
Twenty-five participants were interviewed (19 males and 6 females aged 18-59 years). Three main themes emerged: (1) perceived continuous behavioural support via IM, (2) low intervention engagement of non-treatment seeking smokers, and (3) need for more personalized psychosocial support and tailored intervention strategy to improve motivation to quit. PIM was perceived as effective in providing sustained behavioural support to decrease withdrawal symptoms and increase psychosocial support, which could increase motivation to quit. However, unidirectional IM was considered sufficient for participants who had low motivation to quit. Customizing cessation support tailoring to participants’ needs are preferred.
This study gained in-depth understanding of the needs for personalized behavioural and psychosocial support in mobile health-based smoking cessation interventions. IM-delivered interaction tailoring to participants’ motivation to quit may further boost its acceptance and use.