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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health


Introduction: Although smoking prevalence has recently declined, the smoking prevalence in China remains high. Extensive research has demonstrated ways that social media can assist in quitting smoking. WeChat is the most commonly used social media platform in China but has not been used for smoking cessation. A process evaluation of a novel WeChat-based smoking cessation intervention was conducted to measure its efficacy of content delivery, participant satisfac-tion, engagement, and likelihood of recommendation to others. Methods: A three-week, three-arm, single-blind randomized control trial was established. WeChat was used to recruit 403 participants and to deliver intervention messages and process evaluation surveys to them. Recruitment adver-tisements were posted on an official WeChat account and were forwarded to WeChat Moments. Intervention messages were delivered once a day during weekdays, using the WeChat broadcasting messages function, with two messages being sent each time. Process evaluation surveys were orga-nized using Wenjuanwang and were delivered via WeChat. Process assessments were conducted every Friday to assess intervention message receipt, satisfaction level, engagement level, and recommendation to others. The receipt of intervention messages was measured by a self-reported question indicating which messages were read each week. Satisfaction was measured by a five-item Lik-ert scale survey. Engagement was measured by a one-item Likert scale survey. Recommendation to others was measured by one self-reported question. Results: Participants read an average of 4.76 (out of 10), 5.80 (out of 10), and 4.25 (out of 6) messages at week 1, week 2, and week 3, respectively. The second messages were less likely to be read compared to the first messages (52.3% vs. 61.6%, respectively). Moreover, within each single week, the number of participants who read the intervention messages gradually decreases over time. Picture-based intervention messages tended to be less likely to be read than video-based intervention messages. Total program satisfaction scores ranged between 5 and 25, and the overall scores for satisfaction for each week were 21.55, 22.27, and 22.76, respectively. No significant differences were found in all the satisfaction indicators between groups. More than 60% of participants reported being either highly engaged or somewhat engaged each week. In addition, most participants (93.0% at week 1, 95.8% at week 2, and 96.2% at week 3) reported that they were willing to recommend our program to others. Discussion: A WeChat-based smoking cessation intervention for Chinese smokers was implemented and evaluated. For future studies, one should consider sending messages of a higher importance as the first message of a given day. Smokers had a higher rate of reading intervention messages at the beginning part of each week, during which, relatively important messages should be prioritized. One might also consider alter-nating the topics and formats of the messages for a better engagement of the users in future studies.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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