Smokers get help quitting through text messages
People who are trying to quit smoking are being helped by motivational text messages that get sent directly to their mobile phone.
A study found that smokers were twice more likely to give up smoking successfully after receiving the ‘txt2stop’ trial messages than those who went un-encouraged.
Three thousand smokers took part in the trial and received five messages a day for five weeks and then three messages a day for the following six months.
Smokers themselves worked with health experts to phrase the messages, which as well as offering support to quitters they also gave advice on how to avoid weight gain after stopping smoking.
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Participants of the trial also had the option to request text messages of support if they felt they were in a time of need.
Users could text the word ‘crave’ or ‘lapse’ and receive messages that read: “Cravings last less than 5 minutes on average. To help distract yourself, try sipping a drink slowly until the craving is over.”
Alternatively, if quitters had a lapse they would get back: “Don’t feel bad or guilty if you’ve slipped. You’ve achieved a lot by stopping for a while. Slip-ups can be a normal part of the quitting process. Keep going, you can do it!”
When smokers first decided to quit the text message that they received said: “This is it! - QUIT DAY; throw away all your fags. TODAY is the start of being QUIT forever, you can do it!”
To ensure that the smokers taking part in the trial really had stopped smoking, saliva tests were undertaken to check for the tobacco related chemical cotinine.
The results of the study showed that there was a 10.7 percent success rate in quitters who received the motivational text messages, against just a 4.9 percent rate of success in participants who were sent messages on a range of topics that were not connected to smoking.
The study was funded by the Medical Research Council and was led by Dr Caroline Free from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
She said in an interview: “Text messages are a very convenient way for smokers to receive support to quit. People described txt2stop as being like having a 'friend' encouraging them or an 'angel on their shoulder'. It helped people resist the temptation to smoke.”
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”