The proposed SBIR Phase II application is to develop and test Buddies OnLine, an Internet multi-player game for adolescent smoking cessation. Approximately 60-70% of adolescent smokers express a desire to quit, but the majority is not successful. The Buddies program is designed to provide social support and skills training to adolescent smokers to help them quit smoking within the context of a fun-to-play game involving real-time chat and mini-games. The first primary aim is to finish development of the existing Phase I prototype. The second primary aim is to test the usability of a working prototype in an Interaction Design Laboratory.
The third aim i s to evaluate the effectiveness of Buddies OnLine by recruiting 440 past week smokers aged 13-17 from 10 sites in different states; coordinated by the American Lung Association of Minnesota. Smokers within each site will be randomized to one of two conditions: Buddies Online game or Internet cessation information and support. The primary outcome is biochemically confirmed self-reported 3-month follow-up abstinence. If shown effective in helping adolescents to quit smoking, the Buddies Online program holds great promise in providing a fun and effective alternative for adolescent smokers wanting to quit.
Currently, Medical Works' Smoking Web-delivered game is one of very few in development. Our design will be created with the goal of positioning the 'Buddies OnLine' Internet game as a standard in educational health care. The potential buyers of 'Buddies OnLine' will be youths who smoke, parents, teachers, school districts, educational and probation facilities, public health departments, hospitals, HMOs, disease prevention societies, community based organizations, medical educators and physicians that have access to the Internet.