February 7, 2023

Joanne Lyu, PhD

Peer mentoring to quit vaping on social media: What do young people want?

A new study examined the role of peer mentoring to enhance social media interventions to support adolescents and young adults who want to quit e-cigarette use. E-cigarettes are the most common tobacco product used by US adolescents and young adults. Nicotine contained in most e-cigarettes can harm young people, as brain development continues through the mid-20s. Being deeply integrated into the life of young people, social media have become a promising channel to deliver interventions to young people to help them quit e-cigarette use. However, many social media programs have a high dropout rate and declining participant engagement over time, which lower program efficacy. Peer mentoring is a promising way to enhance engagement, but it has not been studied in social media-based tobacco cessation programs.

Dr. Lyu and colleagues (Afolabi, White, and Ling) conducted seven focus groups with 26 ethnically diverse adolescents and young adults who had prior experience with social media–based e-cigarette cessation groups. They found that adolescents and young adults were receptive to peer mentoring and believed it could be helpful in assisting with e-cigarette cessation. The most important characteristics of peer mentors identified in the study were being of similar age and being abstinent from e-cigarette use. The study also identified preferences for group and one on one mentoring, mentor training, supervision, and concerns about peer mentoring. This study lays the groundwork for the development of a peer mentoring program integrated with social media to support e-cigarette cessation, and other digital interventions that include peer mentoring. The study has been published in JMIR Formative Research.



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