UK women smokers' experiences of an age-progression smoking cessation intervention: Thematic analysis of accounts

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Objectives Appearance-related interventions to promote healthy behaviour have been found effective to communicate health risks. The current study aimed to explore women smokers' experiences of age-progression software showing the effects of smoking on the face. Methods A qualitative design was implemented, utilizing both individual interviews and focus groups within a critical realist framework. Fifteen, 19–52 year-old women smokers were administered an age-progression intervention. All participants responded to the intervention, engaged in semi-structured interviews, and were invited back to attend one of three focus groups. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results Four main themes were identified: Health versus Appearance, Shock Reaction, Perceived Susceptibility, and Intention to Quit. Participants found the intervention useful, voicing need for a comprehensive approach that includes both appearance and health. Despite increases in appearance-based apps which could diminish impact, women's accounts of shock induced by the aged smoking-morphed images were similar to previous work conducted more than ten years previously. Conclusions The study provides novel insights in how women smokers currently perceive, and react to, an age-progression intervention for smoking cessation. Innovation Findings emphasise the implementation of this intervention type accompanied by health information in a range of patient settings.