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Developing an Internet- and Mobile-Based System to Measure Cigarette Use Among Pacific Islanders: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study.



Recent prevalence data indicates that Pacific Islanders living in the United States have disproportionately high smoking rates when compared to the general populace. However, little is known about the factors contributing to tobacco use in this at-risk population. Moreover, few studies have attempted to determine these factors utilizing technology-based assessment techniques.


The objective was to develop a customized Internet-based Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) system capable of measuring cigarette use among Pacific Islanders in Southern California. This system integrated the ubiquity of text messaging, the ease of use associated with mobile phone apps, the enhanced functionality offered by Internet-based Cell phone-optimized Assessment Techniques (ICAT), and the high survey completion rates exhibited by EMA studies that used electronic diaries. These features were tested in a feasibility study designed to assess whether Pacific Islanders would respond to this method of measurement and whether the data gathered would lead to novel insights regarding the intrapersonal, social, and ecological factors associated with cigarette use.


20 young adult smokers in Southern California who self-identified as Pacific Islanders were recruited by 5 community-based organizations to take part in a 7-day EMA study. Participants selected six consecutive two-hour time blocks per day during which they would be willing to receive a text message linking them to an online survey formatted for Web-enabled mobile phones. Both automated reminders and community coaches were used to facilitate survey completion.


720 surveys were completed from 840 survey time blocks, representing a completion rate of 86%. After adjusting for gender, age, and nicotine dependence, feeling happy (P=<.001) or wanting a cigarette while drinking alcohol (P=<.001) were positively associated with cigarette use. Being at home (P=.02) or being around people who are not smoking (P=.01) were negatively associated with cigarette use.


The results of the feasibility study indicate that customized systems can be used to conduct technology-based assessments of tobacco use among Pacific Islanders. Such systems can foster high levels of survey completion and may lead to novel insights for future research and interventions.

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