Cancer survivors’ views on digital support for smoking cessation and alcohol moderation: A survey and qualitative study

Ajla Mujcic*, Matthijs Blankers, Dilara Yildirim, Brigitte Boon, Rutger Engels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Digital interventions may provide low-threshold support for smoking cessation (SC) and alcohol moderation (AM) to the growing population of cancer survivors. The objective was to explore preconditions of successful AM and SC digital interventions for cancer survivors. Methods: Using a multi-method approach we conducted a survey (n = 240), a qualitative study consisting of four focus groups (n = 15) and semi-structured interviews with Dutch cancer survivors (n = 8). To help interpretation of our results we interviewed experts in the field of eHealth and cancer survivors (n = 6) and we organized an expert meeting (n = 7). Qualitative data were analysed using the Framework approach and were double-coded by two coders. Results: Survey results show the majority of drinkers had not previously considered AM (n = 158, 84.9%), often because they deemed their alcohol use to be non-problematic. All current smokers in the survey had considered SC before. In focus groups and interviews it became clear that SC efforts did not always stem from their own willingness to quit smoking, but originated from a wish to please their social environment. Main themes to be addressed in digital SC and AM that emerged from the interviews and focus groups, centred on the different ways of identification as cancer survivors, need for autonomy, differential beliefs about SC and AM, and the importance of a positive, non-patronizing tone-of-voice. Several specific preferences for digital interventions were formulated, although some cancer survivors prefer no support or face-to-face contact. Conclusions: Cancer survivors are a diverse group with diverse preferences for AM and SC support. Digital AM and SC interventions for cancer survivors are perceived to be of value by some, especially when they incorporate a positive, non-judgemental and non-patronizing tone-of-voice, address concerns specifically relevant to cancer survivors, offer possibilities for personalization, and emphasize autonomy throughout. To encourage AM specifically, problem recognition and awareness of the health benefits of AM should be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1763
Pages (from-to)1763
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The current study is supported by grant #TBOS2014–7169 from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF Kankerbestrijding). The sponsor has no role in the design, data collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, nor in writing the article or the decision to submit for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


Dive into the research topics of 'Cancer survivors’ views on digital support for smoking cessation and alcohol moderation: A survey and qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this