Computer and internet technology is becoming widely available and heavily used by youth in the United States. Today's cancer prevention programs geared towards young individuals ought to consider technology as a cost-effective and attractive channel of information delivery. Our investigative team has implemented several technology-assisted early cancer prevention programs aimed at smoking prevention and cessation. Our first large-scale study that used computer technology (CD-ROM) was Project ASPIRE. This interactive multimedia program tailored to the needs of individual user was tested in 16 Houston-area high schools. At 18-month smoking initiation rates were significantly lower in the ASPIRE condition compared to controls (N=1,160; 1.9% vs. 5.9%, p<.05). The additive effects of multiple smoking initiation risks were examined using a cumulative model. As the level of risk increased smoking initiation increased significantly in the control group (2.7% to 17.2%, p<.001), while remaining low and stable in the intervention group. Currently, ASPIRE is being disseminated online among thousands of users in 21 states. Smoking cessation programs for community college students (laptop-assisted Project Look at Your Health) and university students (internet-based Project SUCCESS) were tested in two randomized controlled trials. In Project Look at Your Health (N=326), the cotinine-validated smoking quit rates at 10-month follow-up were 17.2% and 10.2% in the experimental group and standard-care group, respectively (p<.06). Statistically significant results were achieved in the updated and improved online version of the intervention used in Project SUCCESS. At 12 months, (N=236), the intent-to-treat analysis revealed the quit rates of 20% in the experimental condition versus 10% in the standard care, (p<.01). Currently, we are designing the 3rd version of the smoking cessation intervention for college students that systematically addresses depressive symptoms and alcohol use. Our investigative team is among the leaders designing the cutting-edge educational tools for youth in the form of video games. Our DOD-funded prototype tobacco prevention and cessation video game, Escape with Your Life, is using a hospital metaphor in which participants learn about the dangers of tobacco use while visiting various rooms (surgery, patient records, waste disposal, accounting, etc.). This novel educational tool is richly equipped with animations, videos, and interactive features. Escape with Your Life has produced promising preliminary results. Currently, we are in the final stages of designing a tablet computer-based smoking cessation video game for the U.S. Army service members who are at high risk for lifelong nicotine dependence and multiple tobacco-attributable cancers.
Citation Information: Cancer Prev Res 2011;4(10 Suppl):PL03-02.