With over 530 smoking cessation applications flooding the market, none directly addressed the unique needs of the SMI population. Of those 530 smoking cessation applications, only two have been tested with users, and none with SMI. Additionally, the cognitive and physical limitations of the severely mentally ill make completing simple tasks like registering initial information or tapping a button accurately very challenging. This is not only detrimental to long-term engagement, but it can create stress or anxiety when using applications that were not built with their unique needs in mind.
Based on Dr. Vilardaga’s original design, Smashing Ideas collaborated with Dr. Vilardaga and his team on a refined approach that combined the concepts of Acceptance Commitment Therapy, Motivational UXTM and a visually beautiful, easy-to-use, guided application. Through progressive disclosure, the experience guides the patient along a visual path to track progress, participate in multifaceted exercises throughout the duration of the journey and plan for future success in becoming cigarette free. Each point in the journey provides them with positive reinforcement, giving them increased motivation to continue. The metaphor of a path also lets them see where they are headed along their journey, creating a feeling of empowerment and long-term accomplishment.
With the physical and behavioral limitations of the user group, the app was designed with a muted color palette to lessen sensitivity to over-stimulation, buttons were created instead of swiping to account for users with pharma-induced tremors, and simple illustrations conveyed complex, abstract concepts. The motivational concept of challenge and reward was particularly useful to reinforce what they were learning. As the user navigates their journey through a “swamp of urges,” they move through modules where they are taught lessons about how to be mindful and change their psychological relationship with them. As they master each lesson, new modules are unlocked. These intrinsic motivators are reinforced extrinsically as well through a financial tally showing how much money a user has saved by reducing their cigarette consumption. As the amount grows over time, the user learns a literal correlation between their physical and financial health.
Once the patient hits a certain level within their journey of learning how to quit, they are able to set a Quit Date and make a quit attempt. Coaches provide each patient lozenges and nicotine patches to support the physical urges, and the physical aids are tracked and managed within the application. As the patient moves through the actual quitting process they track their mood, how the physical aids are contributing, cost savings tallies, and are provided immediate access to their coach via the application.