While the rates of smoking have reduced for the general population over the last 50 years, up to 80% of people with serious mental illness (SMI) are still smokers.
Out of the 530+ smoking cessation applications currently in-market, none directly address the unique needs of the SMI community, and only two have been tested with users, and none with SMI.
Dr. Roger Vilardaga of Duke University believed that a clinically supported healthcare mobile app could provide around-the-clock patient access and support. Dr. Vilardaga partnered with Smashing Ideas, the design and innovation arm of Luxoft, to design and build a smoking cessation digital experience that teaches the SMI community the tools they need to quit smoking. The foundational principles for the mobile application were based on a new behavioral therapy approach called Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Next came the healthcare application development phase. The healthcare app was designed with a muted color palette to lessen sensitivity to over-stimulation, buttons were created instead of swiping to account for users with pharma-induced tremors, and simple illustrations conveyed complex, abstract concepts. Through progressive disclosure, the experience guides the user with mental illness along a visual path to track progress, participate in multifaceted exercises, and plan for future success in becoming cigarette free.
What began as 200 hours of patient testing with simple prototypes has progressed into a high-fidelity healthcare mobile app that initially underwent rigorous National Institute of Health funded user testing through the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center. Now at Duke University, Dr. Vilardaga is conducting a second phase of randomized clinical trials.