Delivery of Smoking Cessation Treatment via Live Chat: An Analysis of Client-centered Coaching Skills and Behavior Change Techniques

Research Summary:


Objective: This qualitative study explored whether evidence-based tobacco cessation treatment components can be deployed via web-based live chat coaching.

Methods: N = 100 randomly selected chats were coded. Researchers used a structured coding guide to note the presence of 3 Motivational Interviewing (MI) skills and 61 behavior change techniques (BCTs).

Results: MI skills were observed in 86% of chats: 31 chats incorporated one skill, 31 incorporated two, and 24 incorporated all three. Open-ended questions were most common (76%), followed by affirmations (47%) and reflective listening statements (38%). BCTs were observed in 100% of chats: 21% involved one-five BCTs, 69% involved six-10 BCTs, and 10% involved 11 or more BCTs. Mean number of BCTs per chat was 7.25 (SD=2.5; range 2–17). The most common BCTs were Social Support (99%), Reward/Threat (95%), Natural Consequences (82%), Regulation (82%), Goals/Planning (64%), and Self Belief (42%).

Conclusions: Tobacco cessation coaching using MI skills and evidence-based BCTs can be delivered via live chat. This synchronous modality allows the delivery of an intervention tailored to the user’s motivations and goals.

Practice implications: Web-based live chat can broaden the reach of tobacco treatment specialists to deploy evidence-based counseling skills and behavior change techniques in personalized, accessible coaching.

Human Resources Today