A game concept for smartphones that encourages people to stop smoking has been created by Imperial students.
The proposed app, called Quit Genius, would incorporate elements of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), to deliver personalised behavioural support to those wanting to quit tobacco. Featuring fun challenges, incentives and messages delivered by an animated virtual doctor, it is designed to help smokers change the way they think about smoking and stay committed to their goal. The gaming aspect of the app would encourage people to use it, whilst the CBT element would encourage people to quit smoking.
The invention of the Quit Genius app was the result of a research project undertaken by undergraduate medical students at Imperial, who as part of their degree gained an IBSc Management at Imperial College Business School. The students have been investigating how games can help change health behaviour.
The project is part of a wider movement called gamification, which looks at how to apply gaming to create products that can benefit society. Yusuf Sherwani, who led the team behind Quit Genius, said: “As medical students, almost every day we are exposed to patients who are suffering from the consequences of smoking cigarettes; many of whom want to quit but lack the necessary support. We really hope this app takes off and transforms the support available to them.”
The students are now looking for technical and financial support to develop the app prototype and bring it onto the market.
Sherwani continued: “The theory that underpins gamification is versatile and could potentially be extended to helping people achieve other lifestyle changes such as losing weight. We’re now actively seeking funding to make this project a reality and help the many smokers who have already begun to contact us.”
Dr Andreas Eisingerich, Professor of Marketing at Imperial College Business School, who supervised the project, said: “At the Business School we encourage students to develop solutions to real challenges facing society, using the tools and frameworks that we explore on our courses. The Quit Genius app demonstrates the students’ innovative spirit and ability to turn an idea into something that people can start using immediately, to help them improve their health.”
Dr Eisingerich worked alongside Dr Omar Usmani, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in the Faculty of Medicine who provided clinical input into the project.
Dr Sanjay Agrawal, Consultant Lung Specialist and Chair of the British Thoracic Society’s Tobacco Special Advisory Group, said: “This is a really interesting prototype and we look forward to seeing further developments of the game and research about its effectiveness.
I like the idea of combining cognitive behavioural theory with the power of fun in a stop smoking game. Its other potential benefits are its cost effectiveness and sheer reach by using smartphone technology. We’ll await further results with interest.”
For more information on the project visit www.quitgenius.com
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