Facial-Aging Mobile Apps for Smoking Prevention in Secondary Schools in Brazil: Appearance-Focused Interventional Study.

Publication Date: 
Jan 01, 0000

BACKGROUND: Most smokers start smoking during their early adolescence, often with the idea that smoking is glamorous. Interventions that harness the broad availability of mobile phones as well as adolescents' interest in their appearance may be a novel way to improve school-based prevention. A recent study conducted in Germany showed promising results. However, the transfer to other cultural contexts, effects on different genders, and implementability remains unknown.

OBJECTIVE: In this observational study, we aimed to test the perception and implementability of facial-aging apps to prevent smoking in secondary schools in Brazil in accordance with the theory of planned behavior and with respect to different genders.

METHODS: We used a free facial-aging mobile phone app ("Smokerface") in three Brazilian secondary schools via a novel method called mirroring. The students' altered three-dimensional selfies on mobile phones or tablets and images were "mirrored" via a projector in front of their whole grade. Using an anonymous questionnaire, we then measured on a 5-point Likert scale the perceptions of the intervention among 306 Brazilian secondary school students of both genders in the seventh grade (average age 12.97 years). A second questionnaire captured perceptions of medical students who conducted the intervention and its conduction per protocol.

RESULTS: The majority of students perceived the intervention as fun (304/306, 99.3%), claimed the intervention motivated them not to smoke (289/306, 94.4%), and stated that they learned new benefits of not smoking (300/306, 98.0%). Only a minority of students disagreed or fully disagreed that they learned new benefits of nonsmoking (4/306, 1.3%) or that they themselves were motivated not to smoke (5/306, 1.6%). All of the protocol was delivered by volunteer medical students.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate the potential for facial-aging interventions to reduce smoking prevalence in Brazilian secondary schools in accordance with the theory of planned behavior. Volunteer medical students enjoyed the intervention and are capable of complete implementation per protocol.

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